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F O L L E T T, F O S T K R & CO 


' 1860. 

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1S60, 


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of Ohio. 










Republican Platform, 99 

Ballots for the Presidency, 104 

Speech of Mr. Evarts, 106 

Response of Mr. Browning, 107 

President Ashmun's Valedictory, 109 


At Cincinnati, September, 1859, 115 

On Internal Improvements, in Congress, June 20, 

1848, 154 

In Reply to Douglas, Representatives' Hall, Spring- 
field, June 26, 1857, 170 

At Cooper Institute, February 27, 1860, 188 

At Columbus, September, 1859, 214 

At Peoria, October 16, 1854, 251 







When one has written a hurried book, one likes 
to dwell upon the fact, that if the time had not 
been wanting one could have made it a great deal 

This fact is of the greatest comfort to the author, 
and not of the slightest consequence to anybody 

It is perfectly reasonable, therefore, that every 
writer should urge it. 

A work which seeks only to acquaint people with 
the personal history of a man for Avhom they are 
asked to cast their votes — and whose past ceases to 
concern them in proportion as his present employs 
them — will not be numbered with those immortal 
books which survive the year of their publication. 
It does not challenge criticism; it fulfills the end 
of its being if it presents facts and incidents in a 
manner not altogether barren of interest. 



It is believed tbat the following biographical sketch 
of Abraham Lincoln will be found reliable. The 
information upon which the narrative is based, has 
been derived chiefly from the remembrance of Mr. 
Lincoln's old friends, and may, therefore, be con- 
sidered authentic. It is hardly necessary to add, 
that no one but the writer is responsible for his 
manner of treating events and men. 




Lincoln's Ancestry— Emigration to Kentucky — Lincoln's Grand- 
father killed by Indians — Dispersion of family — Birth of Lin- 
coln — Parentage — First Schooling — Removal to Indiana — 
Forest Life — First Flat-boat Trip to New Orleans — Death of 
Lincoln's Mother — Removal to Illinois — The Historic Rails... 17 


Denton Offutt— Another Flat-boat Trip to New Orleans— Boat 
built and Trip made — Lincoln's Location at New Salem — First 
Speech — Self-Education — Ardor in Study — Favorite Authors 
— Practicing Polemics — "Clary's Grove Boys" — Defense of 
Jack Armstrong's Son 25 


Black Hawk's War— Brief Review of its Events— Failure of 
OfTutt in Business— Lincoln Volunteers and is made Captain 
—Incident of the Campaign— First legislative Canvass— 
Popularity — Surveying Experiences — Lincoln's Store — Ac- 
count of the Purchasers— Failure of the Proprietors— Pay- 
ment of forgotten Debt '. 36 




Lincoln's legislative Career — Eage for Public Improvements in 
Illinois — Lincoln's Votes in the Legislature — First Opposition 
to Douglas — The Long Nine — Electioneering Candidate — 
Admiration of Lincoln's old Neighbors for him — Lincoln 
studies Law 44 

Retrospective — Lincoln's Position twenty Years ago — Practice 
of the Law — Characteristics as a Lawyer — Marriage — Cam- 
paign of 1844 — Election to Congress 50 

Lincoln in Congress — The Mexican War — Opposition to it — 

and Resolutions against the War — Speech in Favor of 
River and Harbor Improvements — Abolition of Slavery in the 
District of Columbia — Lincoln's Proposition — The Wilmot 
Proviso — Retirement from Congress 66 

The Whig Party — The Free Soilers — Lincoln's Services in the 
Taylor and Scott Campaigns— Decay of the Whig Party— Re- 
peal of the Missouri Compromise — Lincoln once more in the 
Field — Election of Trumbull to the Senate — Lincoln's Sacri- 
fices of personal Ambition — The Anti-Nebraska State Conven- 
tion — Formation of the Republican Party in Illinois 66 

Vote for Lincoln in the National Convention of 1856 — Position 
in the Fremont Campaign — Debates with Douglas — Letter to 
Doctor Canisius on Naturalization — Speeches in Ohio and the 
Eastern States 7T 



Chicago Convention — Nomination of Lincoln — His Reception of 
the News — Visit of the Committee of Official Announcement — 
Speeches of Mr. Ashmim and Lincoln — Letter of Acceptance 
> — Lincoln at Home — His Appearance, etc 88 



It is necessary that every American should have an 
indisputable grandfather, in order to be represented in 
the Revolutionary period by actual ancestral service, 
or connected with it by ancestral reminiscence. Fur- 
ther back than a grandfather few can go with satisfac- 
tion. Everything lies wrapt in colonial obscurity and 
confusion ; and you have either to claim that the Smiths 
came over in the Mayflower, or that the Joneses were 
originally a Huguenot family of vast wealth and the 
gentlest blood; or that the Browns are descended from 
the race of Powhattan in the direct line; or you are 
left in an extremely embarrassing uncertainty as to the 
fact of great-grandparents. 

We do not find it profitable to travel far into the past 
in search of Abraham Lincoln's ancestry. There is a 
dim possibility that he is of the stock of the New Eng- 
land Lincolns, of Plymouth colony ; but the noble sci- 
ence of heraldry is almost obsolete in this country, and 



none of Mr. Lincoln's family seems to have been aware 
of the preciousness of long pedigrees, so that the records 
are meagre. The first that is known of his forefathers 
is that they were Quakers, who may have assisted in 
those shrewd bargains which honest William Penn 
drove with the Indians, for we find them settled at an 
early day in the old county of Berks, in Pennsylvania, 
where doubtless some of their descendants yet remain.- 
Whether these have fallen away from the calm faith of 
their ancestors is not a matter of history, but it is cer- 
tain that the family from which the present Abraham 
Lincoln derives his lineage, long ago ceased to be Qua- 
ker in everything but its devout Scriptural names. His 
grandfather, (anterior to whom is incertitude, and abso- 
lute darkness of names and dates,) was born in Rock- 
ingham county, Virginia, whither j^art of the family had 
emigrated from Pennsylvania; and had four brothers, 
patriarchially and apostolically named Isaac, Jacob, 
John, and Thomas; himself heading the list as Abra- 
ham Lincoln. 

The descendants of Jacob and John, if any survive, 
still reside in Virginia; Thomas settled in the Cumber- 
land region, near the adjunction of North Carolina, 
Tennessee, and Virginia, and very probably his chil- 
dren's children may there be found. Late in the last 
century, Abraham, with his wife and five children, re- 
moved from Rockingham to Kentucky, at a time when 
the border was the scene of savage warfiire between 
the Indians and the whites, and when frontier life was 


diversified by continual incursions, repulsions, and re- 
prisals, on one side and on the other. In one of these 
frequent invasions, Abraham Lincoln was killed by 
the Indians, who stole upon him while he was at work 
and shot him. There is historical mention made of an 
Indian expedition to Hardin county, Kentucky, in 1781, 
which resulted in the massacre of some of the settlers; 
but the date of Lincoln's death is fixed some three years 
later, and there is no other account of it than family 

His wife, his three sons and two daughters survived 
him; but the dispersion of his family soon took place; 
the daughters marrying, and the sons seeking their for- 
tunes in different localities. Of the latter, Thomas Lin- 
coln, the father of Abraham Lincoln of to-day, was the 
youngest, and doubtless felt more severely than the rest 
the loss which had befallen them. They were poor, 
even for that rude time and country; and as a child, 
Thomas made acquaintance only with hardship and pri- 
vation. He was a wandering, homeless boy, working 
when he could find work, and enduring when he could 
not. He grew up without education ; his sole accom- 
plishment in chirography being his own clumsy signa- 
ture. At twenty-eight he married Lucy Hanks, and 
settled in Hardin county, where, on the 12th of Feb- 
ruary, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was born. 

Lincoln's mother was, like his father, Virginian ; but 
beyond this, little or nothing is known of her. From 
both his parents young Lincoln inherited an iron con- 


stitution and a decent poverty. From his father came 
that knack of story-telling, which has made him so de- 
lightful among acquaintances, and so irresistible in his 
stump and forensic drolleries. It is a matter of some 
regret that the information with regard to Thomas Lin- 
coln and his wife is so meager. The information is, 
however, not altogether necessary to the present history, 
and the conjecture to which one is tempted would be as 
idle as impertinent. It is certain that Lincoln cherished, 
with just pride, a family repute for native ability, and 
alluded to it in after life, when he felt the first impulses 
of ambition, and began in earnest his struggle with the 
accidents of ignorance and poverty. 

A younger brother of Abraham's died in infancy ; 
and a sister, older than himself, married and died many 
years ago. With her he attended school during his 
early childhood in Kentucky, and acquired the alpha- 
bet, and other rudiments of education. The schooling 
which Abraham then received from the books and birch 
of Zachariah Riney and Caleb Hazel, (of pedagogic 
memory,) and afterward from Azel W. Dorsey,* and 
one or two others in Indiana, amounted in time to 
nearly a year, and can not be otherwise computed. It 
is certain, however, that this brief period limits his scho- 
lastic course. Outside of it, his education took place 
through the rough and wholesome experiences of border 

*Tliis gentleman is still living in Schuyler county, Illinois. 


life, the promptings of a restless ambition, and a pro- 
found love of knowledge for its own sake. Under these 
influences, he has ripened into a hardy physical man- 
hood, and acquired a wide and thorough intelligence, 
•without the aid of schools or preceptors. 

In the autumn of 1816, when Abraham was eight 
years old, his father determined to quit Kentucky. Al- 
ready the evil influences of slavery were beginning to 
be felt by the poor and the non-slaveholders. But the 
emigration of Thomas Lincoln is, we believe, to be chiefly 
attributed to the insecurity of the right by which he held 
his Kentucky land ; for, in those days, land-titles were 
rather more uncertain than other human afi'airs. Aban- 
doning his old home, and striking through the forests in 
a northwesterly direction, he fixed his new dwelling- 
place in the heart of the " forest primeval " of what is 
now Spencer county, Indiana. The dumb solitude there 
had never echoed to the ax, and the whole land was a 

The rude cabin of the settler was hastily erected, and 
then those struggles and hardships commenced which 
are the common trials of frontier life, and of which the 
story has been so often repeated. Abraham was a hardy 
boy, large for his years, and with his ax did manful 
service in clearing the land. Indeed, with that imple- 
ment, he literally hewed out his path to manhood ; for, 
until he was twenty-three, the ax was seldom out of his 
hand, except in the intervals of labor, or when it was ex- 
changed for the plow, the hoe, or the sickle. His youth- 


ful experiences in tills forest life did not differ from those 
familiar to many otliers. As an adventurous boy, no 
doubt the wood was full of delight and excitement to him. 
No doubt he hunted the coon, trapped the turkey, and 
robbed the nest of the pheasant. As a hunter with the 
rifle, however, he did not acquire great skill, for he has 
never excelled an exploit of his eighth year, when he 
shot the leader of a flock of turkeys which ventured 
within sight of the cabin during his father's absence. 

The family had hardly been two years in their new 
home when it was desolated by the death of Abraham's 
mother. This heavy loss was afterward partially re- 
paired by the marriage of his father to Mrs. Sally John- 
ston, of Elizabethtown, Kentucky. She was the parent 
of three children by a former husband, and was always a 
good and affectionate mother to Thomas Lincoln's moth- 
erless son.* 

The Lincolns continued to live in Spencer county, 
until 1830, nothing interrupting the even tenor of Abra- 
ham's life, except in his nineteeth year, a flat-boat trip 
to New Orleans. He and a son of the owner composed 
the crew, and without other assistance, voyaged 

" Down the beautiful river, 
Past tlie Ohio shore, and past the mouth of the Wabash, 
Into the golden stream of the broad and swift Mississippi," 

Trafficking here and there, in their course, with the 

» Mrs. Lincoln is still living, in Coles county, Illinois. 


inhabitants, and catching glimpses of the great world so 
long shut out by the woods. One night, having tied up 
their "cumbrous boat," near a solitary plantation on the 
sugar coast, they were attacked and boarded by seven 
stalwart negroes; but Lincoln and his comrade, after a 
severe contest in which both were hurt, succeeded in 
beating their assailants and driving them from the boat. 
After which they weighed what anchor they had, as 
speedily as possible, and gave themselves to the middle 
current again. With this sole adventure, Lincoln re- 
sumed his quiet backwoods life in Indiana. 

Four years afterward, on the first of March, 1830, 
his father determined to emigrate once more, and the 
family abandoned the cabin which had been their home 
so long, and set out for Illinois. The emigrant company 
was made up of Thomas Lincoln's family, and the fami- 
lies of 3Irs. Lincoln's two sons-in-law. Their means of 
progress and conveyance were ox-wagons, one of which 
Abraham Lincoln drove. Before the month was elapsed 
they had arrived at Macon county, Illinois, where they 
remained a short time, and Lincoln's family "located" 
on some new land, about ten miles northwest of Deca- 
tur, on the north bank of the Sangamon river, at a 
junction of forest and prairie land. Here the father 
and son built a log-cabin, and split rails enough to fence 
in their land. It is supposed that these are the rails 
which have since become historic ; though they were by 
no means the only ones which the robust young back- 
woodsman made. Indeed, there are other particular 


rails* •wbich dispute a celebrity somewhat indifferent 
to the sincere admirer of Mr. Lincoln. The work done 
was in the course of farm labor, and went to the devel- 
opment of Mr. Lincoln's muscle. Otherwise it is diffi- 
cult to perceive how it has affected his career. 

■•■'Mr. George Close, the partner of Lincoln in the rail-splitting businesg, saj'a 
that Lincoln was, at this time, a farm laborer, working from day to day, for 
different people, chopping wood, mauling rails, or doing whatever was to be 
done. The country was poor, and hard work was the common lot ; tlie heaviest 
share falling to young unmarried men, with whom it was a continual struggle 
to earn a livelihood. Lincoln and Mr. Close made about one thousand rails to- 
gether, for James Hawks and William Miller, receiving their pay in homespun 
clothing. Lincoln's bargain with Miller's wife, was, that he should have one 
yard of brown jeans, (richly dyed with walnut bark,) for every four hundred 
rails made, until he should have enough for a pair of trowsers. As Lincoln was 
already of great altitude, the number of raila that went to the acquirement of 
bis pantaloons was necessarily immense. 


In his time, Denton Offutt was a man of substance ; 
an enterprising and adventurous merchant, trading be- 
tween the up-river settlements and the city of New- 
Orleans, and fitting out frequent flat-boat expeditions to 
that cosmopolitan port, where the French voyageur and 
the rude hunter that trapped the beaver on the Osage and 
Missouri, met tiie polislied old-world exile, and the 
tongues of France, Spain, and England made babel in 
the streets. In view of his experience, it is not too ex- 
travagant to picture Denton OfFutt as a backwoods 
Ulysses, wise beyond the home-keeping pioneers about 
him — 

" Forever roaming with a hungry heart,"' 

bargaining with the Indians, and spoiling them, doubt- 
less, as was the universal custom in those times; learn- 
ing the life of the wild Mississippi towns, with their law- 
less frolics, deep potations, and reckless gambling ; meet- 
ing under his own roof-tree the many-negroed planter 
of the sugar-coast, and the patriarchal Creole of Louis- 
iana ; ruling the boatman who managed his craft, and 
defying the steamboat captain that swept by the slow 
broad-horn with his stately palace of paint and gilding; 
with his body inured to toil and privation, and with all 

3 (25) 


his wits sharpened by traffic; such, no doubt, was Denton 
Ofiutt, who had seen 

" Cities of men, 

And manners, climates, councils, governments," 

and such was one of Lincoln's earliest friends. He quick- 
ly discovered the sterling qualities of honesty and fidelity, 
and the higher qualities of intellect which lay hid under 
the young Kentuckian's awkward exterior, and he at 
once took Lincoln into his employment. He was now 
about sending another flat-boat to New Orleans, and he 
engaged Lincoln, and the husband of one of Lincoln's 
step-sisters, together with their comrade, John Hanks,^^ 
to take charge of his craft for the voyage from Beards- 
town, in Illinois, to the Crescent City. 

In this winter of 1830-31, a deep snow, long remem- 
bered in Illinois, covered the whole land for many weeks, 
and did not disappear until the first of March, when the 
waters of the thaw inundated the country. Overland 
travel from Macon county to Beardstown was rendered 
impossible; Lincoln, and his relative, therefore, took a 
canoe and descended the Sangamon river to Springfield, 
where they found Offutt. He had not succeeded in 
getting a flat-boat at Beardstown, as he expected ; but 
with innumerable flat-boats growing up in their primal 
element of timber about him, he was not the man to be 
bafiled by the trifling consideration that he had no flat- 
boat built. He ofi'ered to Lincoln and each of his 

<' Now a well linown railroad man in Illinois. 


friends, twelve dollars a month for the time they should 
be occupied in getting out lumber, and making the 
boat. The oSev was accepted. The ax did its work ; the 
planks were sawed with a whip-saw ; Denton's ark was 
put together, and the trip to New Orleans triumphantly 
and profitably made. 

On his return to Illinois, Lincoln found that his father 
had (in pursuance of a previous intention) removed 
from Macon, and was now living in Coles county. His 
relative rejoined his family there ; but New Salem, on 
the Sangamon river, became the home of Lincoln, whose 
"location " there was accidental rather than otherwise. 
He was descending the river with another flat-boat for 
Offutfc, and near New Salem grounded on a dam. An 
old friend and ardent admirer, who made his acquaint- 
ance on this occasion, says that Lincoln was standing in 
the water on the dam, when he first caught sight of 
him, devoting all his energies to the release of the boat. 
His dress at this time consisted of a pair of blue jeans 
trowsers indefinitely rolled up, a cotton shirt, striped 
white and blue, (of the sort known in song and tradition 
as hickory,) and a buckeye-chip hat for which a demand 
of twelve and a half cents would have been exorbitant. 

The future president failed to dislodge his boat ; 
though he did adopt the ingenious expedient of lighten- 
ing it by boring a hole in the end that hung over the 
dam and letting out the water — an incident which Mr. 
Douglas humorously turned to account in one of his 
speeches. The boat stuck there stubborn, immovable. 


Offutt, as lias been seen, was a man of resource and 
decision. He came ashore from his flat-boat and reso- 
lutely rented the very mill of which the dam had caused 
his disaster, together with an old store-room, which he 
filled with a stock of goods, and gave in the clerkly 
charge of Abraham Lincoln, with the munificent salary 
of fifteen dollars a month. 

Lincoln had already made his first speech. General 
W. L. D. Ewing, and a politician named Posey, who after- 
ward achieved notoriety in the Black Hawk war, had 
addressed the freemen of Macon the year previous, " on 
the issues of the day." Mr. Posey had, however, in 
violation of venerable precedent and sacred etiquette, 
failed to invite the sovereigns to drink something. They 
were justly indignant, and persuaded Lincoln to reply, 
in the expectation that he would possibly make himself 
oflFensive to Posey. Lincoln, however, took the stump 
with characteristic modesty, and begging his friends not 
to laugh if he broke down, treated very courteously the 
two speakers who had preceded him, discussed questions 
of politics, and in his peroration eloquently pictured the 
future of Illinois. There was sense and reason in his 
arguments, and his imaginative flight tickled the State 
pride of the Illinoians. It was declared that Lincoln 
had made the best speech of the day; a,nd he, to his great 
astonishment, found himself a prophet among those of his 
own household, while his titled fellow-orator cordially 
complimented his performance. 

At New Salem, he now found the leisure and the 


opportunity to initiate a system of self-education. At 
last, he had struggled to a point, where he could not 
only take breath, but could stoop and drink from those 
springs of knowledge, which a hopeless poverty, inces- 
sant toil, and his roving, uncertain life, had, till then, 
forbidden to his lips. 

There seems never to have been any doubt of his abil- 
ity among Lincoln's acquaintances, any more than there 
was a doubt of his honesty, his generosity, and gentle- 
heartedness. When, therefore, he began to make rapid 
progress in his intellectual pursuits, it surprised none 
of them — least of all, Lincoln's shrewd patron, Offutt, 
who had been known to declare, with pardonable enthu- 
siasm, that Lincoln was the smartest man in the United 

The first branch of learning which he took up, was 
English grammar, acquiring that science from the old- 
fashioned treatise of Kirkham. The book was not to 
be had in the immediate vicinity, and Lincoln walked 
seven or eight miles to borrow a copy. He then devoted 
himself to the study with the whole strength of his reso- 
lute nature ; and in three weeks he had gained a fair 
practical knowledge of the grammar. No doubt the 
thing was hard to the uncultivated mind, though that 
mind was of great depth and fertility. One of his 
friends-'^ relates that Lincoln used to take him aside, and 
require explanations of the sententious Kirkham, when- 
ever he visited New Salem. 

*li. M. Green, Esq., of Peteraburgh, Illinois. 


This young backwoodsman had the stubborn notion thai 
because the Lincolns had always been people of excel- 
lent sense, he, a Lincoln, might become a person of dis- 
tinction. He had talked, he said, -with men who were 
regarded as great, and he did not see where they differed 
so much from others. He reasoned, probably, that 
the secret of their success lay in the fact of original 
capacity, and untiring industry. He was conscious of 
his own powers ; he was a logician, and could not resist 
logical conclusions. If he studied, why might not be 
achieve ? 

And Kirkham fell before him. One incident of his 
study, was a dispute with the learned man of the place, 
— a very savant among the unlettered pioneers — in re- 
gard to a grammatical nicety, and the question being 
referred to competent authority, it was decided in Lin- 
coln's favor, to his pride and exultation. 

Concluding his grammatical studies with Kirkham, he 
next turned his attention to mathematics, and took up a 
work on surveying, with which he made himself thor- 
oughly acquainted. 

So great was his ardor in study, at this time, that 
shrewd suspicions with regard to Offutt's clerk got 
abroad ; the honest neighbors began to question whether 
one who would voluntarily spend all his leisure in 

"poring over miserable books," 

could be altogether right in his mind. 

The peculiar manner in which he afterward pursued 


his law studies, was not calculated to allay popular feel- 
ing. He bought an old copy of Blackstone, one day, at 
auction, in Springfield, and on his return to New Salem, 
attacked the work with characteristic energy. 

His favorite place of study was a wooded knoll near 
New Salem, where he threw himself under a wide-spread- 
ing oak, and expansively made a reading desk of the 
hillside. Here he would pore over Blackstone day after 
day, shifting his position as the sun rose and sank, 
so as to keep in the shade, and utterly unconscious of 
everything but the principles of common law. People 
went by, and he took no account of them ; the saluta- 
tions of acquaintances were returned with silence, or a 
vacant stare; and altogether the manner of the absorbed 
student was not unlike that of one distraught. 

Since that day, his habits of study have changed some- 
what, but his ardor remains unabated, and he is now re- 
garded as one of the best informed, as he is certainly the 
ablest, man in Illinois. 

When practicing law, before his election to Congress, 
a copy of Burns was his inseparable companion on the 
circuit ; and this he perused so constantly, that it is said 
he has now by heart every line of his favorite poet. He 
is also a diligent student of Shakspeare, "to know whom 
is a liberal education." 

The bent of his mind, however, is mathematical and 
metaphysical, and he is therefore pleased with the abso- 
lute and logical method of Poe's tales and sketches, in 
which the problem of mystery is given, and wrought out 


into every-day facts by processes of cunning analysis. It 
is said that he suffers no year to pass without the perusal 
of this author. 

Books, of all sorts, the eager student devoured with an 
insatiable appetite; and newspapers were no less precious 
to him. The first publication for which he ever sub- 
scribed, was the Louisville Journal, which he paid for 
^vhen he could secure the intellectual luxury only at 
the expense of physical comfort. 

It was a day of great rejoicing with Lincoln, when 
President Jackson appointed him postmaster at New 
Salem. He was a Whig, but the office was of so little 
pecuniary significance, that it was bestowed irrespective 
of politics. Lincoln, indeed, was the only person in 
the community whose accomj^lishments were equal to 
the task of making out the mail returns for the Depart- 

An acquaintance says that the Presidency can never 
make our candidate happier than the post-office did 
then. He foresaw unlimited opportunities for reading 
newspapers, and of satisfying his appetite for knowl- 

But it was not through reading alone that Lincoln 
cultivated his intellect. The grave and practical Ameri- 
can mind has always found entertainment and profit 
in disputation, and the debating clubs are what every 
American youth is subject to. They are useful in many 
ways. They safely vent the mental exuberance of 
youth ; those whom destiny intended for the bar and 


the Senate^ they assist; those who have a mistaken voca- 
tion to oratory, they mercifully extinguish. 

Even in that day, and that rude country, where learn- 
ing was a marvelous and fearful exception, the debating 
school flourished, in part as a literary institution, and in 
part as a rustic frolic. 

Lincoln delighted in practicing polemics, as it was 
called, and used to walk six and seven miles through 
the woods to attend the disputations in his neighbor- 
hood. Of course, many of the debates were infinitely 
funny, for the disputants were, frequently, men without 
education. Here, no doubt, Lincoln stored his mind 
with anecdote and comic illustration, while he delight- 
ed his auditors with his own wit and reason, and added 
to his growing popularity. 

This popularity had been early founded by a stroke of 
firmness and bravery on Lincoln's part, when he first 
came into Sangamon county. 

He had returned from that famous voyage made with 
Ofi"utt's impromptu flat-boat to New Orleans, and de- 
scending the Sangamon river, had, as has been already 
related, fixed upon the little village of New Salem,* by 
fortuity rather than intention, as his future home. 
Nevertheless, he had first to undergo an ordeal to 
which every new comer was subjected, before his resi- 
dence could be generally acknowledged. Then, when it 
was much more necessary to be equal parts of horse and 

* Xear Petersburgh. 


alligator, and to be able to vanquish one's weight in 
•wild cats, than now, there flourished, in the region of 
New Salem, a band of jolly, roystering blades, calling 
themselves " Clary's Grove Boys," who not only gave 
the law to the neighborhood, as Regulators, but united 
judicial to legislative functions, by establishing them- 
selves a tribunal to try the stuff of every one who came 
into that region. They were, at once, the protectors and 
the scourge of the whole country-side, and must have 
been some such company as that of Brom Bones, in 
Sleepy Hollow, upon whom the " neighbors all looked 
with a mixture of awe, admiration, and good-will." 
Their mode of receiving a stranger was to appoint some 
one of their number to wrestle with him, fight with him, 
or run a foot-race with him, according to their pleasure, 
and his appearance. 

As soon as young Lincoln appeared, the " Clary's 
Grove Boys" determined to signalize their prowess anew 
by a triumph over a stalwart fellow, who stood sis feet 
three inches without stockings. The leader and cham- 
pion of their band, (one Jack Armstrong, who seems 
himself to have been another Brom Bones,) challenged 
Lincoln to a wrestling-match. When the encounter took 
place, the "Clary's Grove Boy" found that he had de- 
cidedly the worst half of the aifair, and the bout would 
have ended in his ignominious defeat, had not all his 
fellow-boys come to his assistance. Lincoln then refused 
to continue the unequal struggle. He would wrestle 
with them fairly, or he would run a foot-race, or if any 


of them desired to fight, he generously offered to thrash 
that particular individual. He looked every word he 
said, and none of the Boys savr fit to accept his offer. 
Jack Armstrong -was -willing to call the affair dravrn ; 
and Lincoln's fearless conduct had already won the 
hearts of his enemies. He was invited to become one 
of their company. His popularity was assured. The 
Boys idolized him, and when the Black Hawk war broke 
out, he was chosen their captain, and remained at their 
head throughout the campaign. Their favor still pur-r 
sued him, and, two years afterward, he was elected to 
the Legislature, through the influence created by his 
famous wrestling-match. 

Many of the Boys are now distinguished citizens of 
Illinois, and are among Lincoln's warmest friends ; 
though they acknowledge that if he had shown signs 
of cowardice when they came to the rescue of their 
cham.pion, it would have fared grievously with him. 

Indeed, this seems to have been one of the most sig- 
nificant incidents of his early life. It gave him reputa- 
tion for courage necessary in a new country, and opened 
a career to him which his great qualities have enabled 
him to pursue with brilliance and success.* 

=^' Jack Armstrong, in particular, became a fast friend of Lincoln. It is rela- 
ted that he bestowed a terrible pummeling on a person who once ventured to 
speak slightingly of Lincoln in his presence. Afterward, Lincoln had an 
opportunity to make a full return to Armstrong for his friendship. A man had 
been killed in a riot at camp-meeting, in Menard county, and suspicion fell npoa 
a sou of Jack Armstrong — a wild young scapegrace, who was known to have 
taken part in the affair. He was arrested, and brought to trial for murder. Lin- 
coln, who deems to have belkyed firmly in the young man's innobeuoe, Tolun> 


In 1832, Black Hawk's war broke out. la the light of 
history, this war seems to have been a struggle involun- 
tarily commenced by the Indians against the white set- 
tlers. A treaty had been made by the Sacs and Foxes, 
ceding to the United States all the land east of the Mis- 
sissippi — a treaty which the Sac chief, Black Hawk, de- 
clared to be illegal. A war with the Sacs ensued, which 
was terminated by treaty in 1825. Meanwhile Illinois had 
been admitted to the Union, and the country had filled up 
with whites, who extended the lines of their settlements 
around the country of the Indians, and pressed closer 
and closer upon them. Outrages, on one part and on 
the other, were of constant occurrence; and in revenge 
for some wrong, a party of Chippeway Indians fired upon 
a keel-boat conveying stores to Fort Snelling. Through 
mistake or injustice, Black Hawk was arrested for this, 
and lay imprisoned a whole year before he could be 
brought to trial and acquitted. After his release, it 

teered in his defense, and throwing aside the well-connected Units of circum- 
stantial evidence against him, made a most touching and eloquent appeal to the 
sympathies of the jury. There was that confidence in Lincoln, that absolute 
faith, that he would never say anything but the truth, to achieve any end, that 
the jury listened and were convinced. Young Armstrong was acquitted; and 
Lincoln refused to accept any reward for his defense. 


was believed that he engaged in negotiations to unite 
all the Indians, from Rock River to the Gulf of Mex- 
ico, in a general war upon the whites. The alarm, of 
course, was very great, and active preparations for hos- 
tilities were made. Regular forces were marched against 
the Indians at Rock Island, and large bodies of militia 
were called into the field. It appears that Black Hawk 
never succeeded in rallying about him more than two 
or three hundred warriors of his tribe ; the Indians being 
desirous of peace, and willing to abide by the treaty 
of the chief Keokuk, who favored the cession of land. 
Indeed, Black Hawk himself attempted to treat with 
the whites several times when he met them, and only 
fought after his flags of truce had been fired upon. The 
war was brought to a close by the battle of Bad-Ax, 
in which glorious action a great number of squaws and 
papooses, not to mention several warriors, were killed. 
The Indians then retreated beyond the Mississippi, and 
Black Hawk was brought a prisoner into the camp of 
the whites. He made the grand tour of the Atlantic 
cities, where he received the usual attentions bestowed 
upon lions of every tribe, and returning to the West a 
sadder and a wiser Indian, passed into oblivion. 

There can not be any doubt that the war was a very 
serious matter to the people who were engaged in it; 
and there is as little doubt that their panic exaggerated 
their danger, and rendered them merciless in their de- 
termination to expel the Indians. 

OflFutt's business had long been failing, and at the 


time the war broke out, Lincoln had the leisure, as well 
as the patriotism, to join one of the volunteer companies 
which was formed in the neighborhood of New Salem. 
To his unbounded surprise and satisfaction, he was 
chosen captain by his fellow-soldiers. The place of 
rendezvous was at Richland, and as soon as the mem- 
bers of the company met, the election took place. It 
was expected that the captaincy would be conferred on 
a man of much wealth and consequence among the 
people, for whom Lincoln had once worked. He was 
a harsh and exacting employer, and had treated the 
young man, whom everybody else loved and esteemed, 
with the greatest rigor; a course which had not increased 
his popularity. The method of election was for the 
candidates to step out of the ranks, when the electors 
advanced and joined the man whom they chose to lead 
them. Three-fourths of the company at once went to 
Lincoln ; and when it was seen how strongly the tide 
was set in his favor, the friends of the rival candi- 
date deserted him, one after another, until he was left 
standing almost alone. He was unspeakably mortified 
and disappointed, while Lincoln's joy was proportionably 

The latter served three months in the Black Hawk 
war, and made acquaintance with the usual campaign- 
ing experiences, but was in no battle. He still owns 
the lands in Iowa that he located with warrants for ser- 
vice performed in the v.'ar. 

An incident of the campaign, in which Lincoln is 


concerned,* illustrates a trait of his character no less 
prominent than his qualities of integrity and truth. 
One day an old Indian wandered into Lincoln's camp, 
and was instantly seized by his men. The general 
opinion was that he ought to be put to death. They 
were in the field for the purpose of killing Indians, and 
to spare the slaughter of one that Providence had de- 
livered into their hands was something of which these 
honest pioneers could not abide the thought. It was 
to little purpose that the wretched aborigine showed a 
letter signed by General Cass, and certifying him to bo 
not only a model of all the savage virtues, but a sincere 
friend of the whites. He was about to be sacrificed, 
when Lincoln boldly declared that the sacrifice should 
not take place. He was at once accused of cowardice, 
and of a desire to conciliate the Indians. Nevertheless, 
he stood firm, proclaiming that even barbarians would not 
kill a helpless prisoner. If any one thought him a cow- 
ard, let him step out and be satisfied of his mistake, in 
any way he chose. As to this poor old Indian, he had 
no doubt he was all that the letter of General Cass 
affirmed; he declared that they should kill him before 
they touched the prisoner. His argument, in fine, was 
so convincing, and his manner so determined, that the 
copper-colored ally of the whites was suff"ered to go 
his ways, and departed out of the hostile camp of his 
friends unhurt. 

*The authority for this anecdute is Mr. Wiiliam G. Green, a tried and inti- 
mate friend of Lincoln during early manhood. 


Aftei- his return from the wars, Lincoln cleterminei to 
test the strength of his popularity, by offering himself 
as a candidate for the Legislature. Added to the good' 
will which had carried him into the captaincy, he had 
achieved a warmer place in the hearts of those who had 
followed his fortunes during the war, by his bravery, so- 
cial qualities, and uprightness. He was warm-hearted and 
good-natured, and told his stories, of which he had num^ 
bars, in better style than any other man in the camp. No 
one was so fleet of foot; and in those wrestlings which 
daily enlivened the tedium of camp life, he was never 
thrown but once, and then by a man of superior science 
who was not his equal in strength. These were qualities 
which commended him to the people, and made him the 
favorite officer of the battalion. 

Parties, at this time, were distinguished as Adams 
parties and Jackson parties, and in Lincoln's county the 
Jackson men were vastly in the ascendant. He was a 
stanch Adams man, and, being comparatively unknown 
in the remoter parts of the county, was defeated. In his 
own neighborhood the vote was almost unanimous in his 
favor; though he had only arrived from the war and 
announced himself as a candidate ten days before the 
election. Indeed, he received, at this election, one 
more vote in his precinct than both of the rival candi- 
dates for Conirress together.* 

* The following is the vote taken from the poll-book in Sijringfipld : For 
Congress — .Jonathan H. Pugh, 179, and Joseph Duncan, 97. For Legialaturo — 
Lincoln, 277. 


Defeated, but far from dismayed, Lincoln once more 
turned Ins attention to business. He was still poor, for 
though thrifty enough, he never could withstand the 
iippeals of distress, nor sometimes refuse to become 
security for those who asked the use of his name. His 
first surveying had been done with a grape-vine instead 
of a chain, and having indorsed a note which was not 
paid, his compass was seized and sold. One James Short 
bought it and returned it to Lincoln. The surveyor of 
Sangamon county, John Calhoun, (since notorious for 
his candle-box concealment of the election returns ip 
Kansas,) deputed to Lincoln that part of the county in 
which he resided, and he now assumed the active prac- 
tice of surveying, and continued to live upon the slen- 
der fees of his ofl&ce until 1834, when he was elected to the 
Legislature by the largest vote cast for any candidate. 

Before this election Lincoln had engaged and failed in 
merchandising on his own account. 

It is supposed that it was at New Salem that Lincoln, 
while a " clerk '" in OfFutt's store, first saw Stephen A. 
Douglas, and, probably, the acquaintance was renewed 
during Lincoln's proprietorship of the store which he 
afterward bought in the same place.* 

'•'■ Lincoln expressly stated, in reply to some badinage of Douglas, during tk! 
debates of 1858, that ho never kept a grocery anywhere. Out West, a grocer? 
is understood to be a place where the chief article of commerce is wliisky. 
Lincoln's establishment was, in the Western sense, a store; that is, he sold tea, 
coffee, sugar, powder, lead, and other luxuries and necessaries of pioneer exist- 
ence. Very possibly his store was not without the "elixir of life," with which 
nearly everybody renewed the flower of youth in those days ; though this is not 
a matter of ab?-)lute history, nor perhaps of vital consequence. 



One Reuben Eadford was Lincoln's predecessor. He 
had fallen, by some means, into disftivor with Clary's 
Grove Boys, who, one evening, took occasion to break in 
the windows of his establishment. Reuben was discour- 
aged. Perhaps it would not be going too far to allude 
to his situation as discouraging. At any rate, he told a 
young farmer,-!^ who came to trade with him the next 
day, that he was going to close out his business. What 
would Mr. Green give him for his stock ? Mr. Green 
looked about him and replied, only half in earnest, Four 
hundred dollars. The offer was instantly accepted, and 
the business transferred to Mr. Green. On the follow- 
ing day Lincoln chanced to come in, and being informed 
of the transaction, proposed that he and Green should 
invoice the stock, and see how much he had made. They 
found that it was worth about six hundred dollars, and 
Lincoln gave Mr. Green a hundred and twenty-five dol- 
lars for his bargain, while Green indorsed the notes of 
Lincoln and one Berry, to Radford for the remaining 
four hundred. Berry was a thriftless soul, it seems, and 
after a while the store fell into a chronic decay, and, in 
the idiom of the region, finally tvinJced out. 

Lincoln was moneyless, having previously invested 
his whole fortune in a surveyor's compass and books, 
and Berry was uncertain. Young Green was compelled 
to pay the notes given to Radford. He afterward re- 
moved to Tennessee, where he married, and was living 

''•' Mv. W. T. Green, jiow one of tlio most iiiflucntirvl ntul wealthy men of his 
part of Illinois. 


in forgetfulness of his transaction with Lincoln, when 
he one day received a letter from that person, stating 
he was now able to pay back to Green the amount for 
which he had indorsed. Lincoln was by this time in the 
practice of the law, and it was with the first earnings of 
his profession, that he discharged this debt, principal 
and interest. 

The moral need not be insisted on, and this instance 
is not out of the order of Abraham Lincoln's whole life. 
That the old neighbors and friends of such a man should 
regard him with an affection and faith little short of 
man-worship, is the logical result of a life singularly 
pure, and an integrity without flaw. 


It is seen that Abraham Lincoln was first elected to a 
seat in the Legislature, in 1834, in the face of the un- 
popularity of his political principles, by a larger vote 
than that given to any other candidate. As a legislator 
he served his constituents so well that he was three times 
afterward returned to his place; in 1836, in 1838, and 
in 18-40. He then terminated his legislative career by a 
positive refusal to be again a candidate. 

The period embraced by the eight years in which 
Lincoln represented Sangamon county, was one of the 
greatest material activity in Illinois. So early as 1820, 
the young State was seized with the " generous rage " 
for public internal improvements, then prevalent in New 
York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, and in its sessions for a 
score of succeeding years, the Legislature was occupied 
by the discussion of various schemes for enhancing the 
prosperity of the State. The large canal uniting the 
waters of Lake Michigan and the Illinois river was com- 
pleted at a cost of more than eight millions. By a 
Board of Commissioners of Public Works, specially cre- 
ated, provisions were made for expensive improvements 
of the rivers Wabash, Illinois, Pwock, Kaskaskia, and 
Little Wabash, and the great Western mail route from 


Vincennes to St. Louis. Under the charge of the same 
Board, six railroads connecting principal points were 
projected, and appropriations made for their completion 
at an immense outlay. 

One effect of a policy so wild and extravagant was to 
sink the State in debt. Another was to attract vast 
emigration, and fill up her broad prairies with settlers. 
Individuals were ruined ; the corporate State became 
embarrassed; but benefits have resulted in a far greater 
degree than could have been hoped when the crash first 
came. It is not yet time to estimate the ultimate good 
to be derived from these improvements, though the im- 
mediate evil has been tangible enough. 

The name of Abraham Lincoln is not found recorded 
in favor of the more visionary of these schemes ; but he 
has always favored public improvements, and his voice 
was for whatever project seemed feasible and practical. 
During his first term of service, he was a member of the 
Committee on Public Accounts and Expenditures. He 
voted for a bill to incorporate agricultural societies ; for 
the improvement of public roads ; for the incorporation 
of various institutions of learning ; for the construction 
of the Illinois and Michigan Canal ; he always fostered 
the interests of public education, and favored low salaries 
for public officials. In whatever pertained to the local 
benefit of his own county, he was active and careful ; 
but his record on this subject is of little interest to the 
general reader. 

Lincoln's voice was ever for measures that relieved 


the struggling poor man from pecuniary or political 
difficulties; he had himself experienced these difficul- 
ties, lie therefore supported resolutions for the re- 
moval of the property qualification in franchise, and for 
the granting of pre-emption rights to settlers on the 
public lands. He was the author of a measure permit- 
ting Revolutionary pensioners to loan their pension 
money without taxation. He advocated a bill exempting 
from execution Bibles, school-books, and mechanics' 

His first recorded vote against Stephen A. Douglas, 
was on the election of that politician to the Attorney- 
Generalship by the Legislature. 

He twice voted for the Whig candidates for the United 
States Senate. Otherwise than in the election of Sena- 
tors, State Legislatures were not then occupied with 
national afi"airs, and it is difficult to find anything in Mr. 
Lincoln's legislative history which is of great national 
interest. There were no exciting questions, and Mr. 
Lincoln's speeches were few and brief* He was twice 
the candidate (in 1838 and 1840) of the Whig minority 
for Speaker of the House, 

In 1836, when Lincoln was first re-elected to the Leg- 
islature, Sangamon county, then of greater geographical 
importance than now, was represented by nine members, 

'■' A protest from Mr. Lincoln appears on the journal of the House, in regard 
to some resolutions which had passed. In this protest he pronounces distinctly 
against slavery, and takes the first public step toward what Is now Republican 


no one of whom was less than six feet in height — several 
of them considerably exceeding that altitude. This im- 
mensity of stature attracted attention, and the Sanga- 
mon members were at once nicknamed The Long-Nine, 
They were genial, hearty-humored fellows, famous whit- 
tlers, and distinguished spinners of yarns. They all 
boarded at the same place, and being of gregarious 
habits, spent their evenings together. Lincoln was the 
favorite of the circle ; admired for his gift of story- 
telling, and highly esteemed for his excellent qualities 
of head and heart, his intellectual shrewdness, his re- 
liability, his good-nature, and generosity. The Illinois 
Legislature then held its sessions at Vandalia, and Lin- 
coln used to perform his journeys between New Salem 
and the seat of government on foot, though the remain- 
ing eight of the Long-Nine traveled on horseback. 

A pleasant story connected with this part of his polit- 
ical career is related by Hon. John D. Stuart. Lincoln 
and Stuart were both candidates for the Legislature in 
1834. Stuart's election was conceded, while that of Lin- 
coln was thought to be comparatively uncertain. The 
two candidates happened to be present together at a back- 
woods frolic, when some disaffected of Stuart's party took 
Lincoln aside, and offered to withdraw votes enough 
from Stuart to elect him. He rejected the proposal, and 
at once disclosed the scheme to Stuart, declaring that he 
would not make such a bargain for any office. 

It is by such manly and generous acts that Lincoln 
has endeared himself to all his old neighbors. It may 


be said of liim without extravagance that he is beloved 
of all — even by those against whose interests he has 
conscientiously acted. When in the practice of the law 
he was never known to undertake a cause which he be- 
lieved founded in wrong and injustice. " You are not 
strictly in the right," he said to a person who once 
wished him to bring a certain suit, and who now tells 
the story with profound admiration. "I might give 
the other parties considerable trouble, and perhaps beat 
them at law, but there would be no justice in it. I am 
sorry — I can not undertake your case." "I never knew 
Lincoln to do a mean act in his life," said Stuart, the 
veteran lawyer, who first encouraged Lincoln to adopt 
his profession. " God never made a finer man," ex- 
claimed the old backwoods-man. Close, when applied to 
for reminiscences of Lincoln. So by the testimony of 
all, and in the memory of every one who has known him, 
Lincoln is a pure, candid, and upright man, unblem- 
ished by those vices which so often disfigure greatness, 
utterly incapable of falsehood, and without one base or 
sordid trait. 

During the Legislative canvass of 1834, John D. 
Stuart advised Lincoln to study law, and after the 
election he borrowed some of Stuart's books, and began 
to read. Other warm and influential friends, (Wm. But- 
ler, the present Treasurer of State in Illinois, was one 
of these,) came to Lincoln's material aid and encour- 
agement, and assisted him to retrieve his early errors 
of generosity. With the support of these friends — for 


Lincoln is a man -who could receive benefits as nobly 
as he conferred them — and the slender revenues of his 
surveyorship, he struggled through the term of his law 
studies, and was admitted to the bar in 1836. Business 
flowed in upon him, and quitting New Salem, he took 
up his residence at Springfield, where he united his pro- 
fessional fortunes with those of Major Stuart. The two 
old friends remained in partnership until Stuart's elec- 
tion to Congress, by which time Lincoln had elevated 
himself to a position among the first lawyers of the place. 
In the midst of affairs, however, he never relaxed his 
habits of study; taking up, one by one, the natural 
sciences, and thoroughly acquainting himself with the 
abstrusest metaphysics. He remains to this day a severe 
and indefatigable student — never suffering any subject 
to which he directs his attention, to pass without pro- 
found investigation. 


We now find Abraham Lincoln beginning to assume 
an active part in the political affairs of Illinois. 

He is known to the Whigs throughout the State, and 
his general popularity is as great as the esteem and re- 
gard in which he is held by those personally acquainted 
with him. 

The talented young Whig has founded his reputation 
upon qualities that make every man proud to say he is 
the friend of Lincoln. 

No admirer, who speaks in his praise, must pause to 
conceal a stain upon his good name. No true man 
falters in his affection at the remembrance of any mean 
action or littleness in the life of Lincoln. 

The purity of his reputation, the greatness and dignity 
of his ambition, ennoble every incident of his career, and 
give significance to all the events of his past. 

It is true that simply to have mauled rails, and com- 
manded a flat-boat, is not to have performed splendid 
actions. But the fact that Lincoln has done these things, 
and has risen above them by his own force, confers a 
dignity upon them ; and the rustic boy, who is to be 
President in 1900, may well be consoled and encour- 
aged in hia labors when he recalls these incidents in the 


history of one whose future once wore no brighter aspect 
than his own wears now. 

The emigrant, at the head of the slow oxen that drag 
his household gods toward the setting sun — toward some 
Illinois yet further west — will take heart and hope when 
he remembers that Lincoln made no prouder entrance 
into the State of which he is now the first citizen. 

The young student, climbing unaided up the steep 
ascent — he who has begun the journey after the best 
hours of the morning are lost forever — shall not be 
■without encouragement when he finds the footprints of 
another in the most toilsome windings of his path. 

Lincoln's future success or unsuccess can afiect noth- 
ing in the past. The grandeur of his triumph over all 
the obstacles of fortune, will remain the same. Office 
can not confer honors brighter than those he has already 
achieved ; it is the Presidency, not a great man, that is 
elevated, if such be chosen chief magistrate. 

We have seen that, in 1842, he declines re-election to 
the State Legislature, after eight years' service in that 
body. He has already been on the Harrison electoral 
ticket, and has distinguished himself in the famous can- 
vass of 1840. 

But it is not as a politician alone, that Lincoln is 
heard of at this time. After Stuart's election to Con- 
gress has dissolved their connection, Lincoln forms a 
partnership with Judge Logan, one of the first in his 
profession at Springfield, and continues the practice of 
the law, with rising repute. 


His characteristics as an advocate, are an earnestness 
and sincerity of manner, and a directness, conciseness, 
and strength of style; he appeals, at other times, to 
the weapons of good-humored ridicule as ably as to 
the heavier arms of forensic combat. He is strongest 
in civil cases, but in a criminal cause that enlists his 
sympathy he is also great. It is then that the advocate's 
convictions, presented to the jury in terse and forcible, 
yet eloquent language, sometimes outweigh the charge 
of the judge. Juries listen to him, and concur in his 
arguments; for his known truth has preceded his argu- 
ments, and lie triumphs. There may be law and evi- 
dence against him, but the belief that Lincoln is right, 
nothing can shake in the minds of those who know the 

He prepares his cases with infinite care, when he has 
nothing but technical work before him. The smallest 
detail of the affair does not escape him. All the parts 
are perfectly fitted together, and the peculiar powers of 
his keen, analytic mind are brought into full play. He 
has not the quickness which characterizes Douglas, and 
which is so useful to the man who adventures in law 
or politics. But he is sufficiently alert, and recovers 
himself in time to achieve success. 

Lincoln does not grow rich at the law, and has not 
grown rich to this day, though possessing a decent com- 
petence, and owing no man anything. Poor men, who 
have the misfortune to do with courts, come to Lincoln, 
who has never been known to exact an exorbitant fee, 


-an'd whose demands are always proportioned to their 
poverty. There is record of a case which he gained for 
a young mechanic, after carrying it through three courts, 
and of his refusal to receive more than a comparative 
trifle in return. 

Meantime, in the year 1842, Lincoln married a wo- 
man worthy to be the companion of his progress toward 
honor and distinction. Miss Mary Todd, who became 
his wife, is the daughter of Robert Todd, of Lexington , 
Kentucky, a man well known in that State, and for- 
merly the clerk of the lower House of Congress. At the 
time of her marriage, Miss Todd was the belle of Spring- 
field society-^— accomplished and intellectual, and possess- 
ing all the social graces native in the women of Ken- 

If, at this point of his career, Lincoln looked back 
over his past life with proud satisfaction, his feeling was 
one in which every reader, who has traced his history, 
must sympathize. 

It was hardly more than a half-score of years since 
he had entered Illinois, driving an ox-wagon, laden with 
the "plunder" of a backwoods emigrant. He was ut- 
terly unknown, and without friends who could advance 
him in any way. He was uneducated, and almost un- 

In ten years he had reversed all the relations of his 

<■ Three living sons .ire tlie cliildren of this marriage ; tlie first of wliom was 
born in 1813, the second in ISoO, and the third in 1S53. Anotlier son, who was 
born in 1846, is now dead. 


life. No man had now more friends among all classes 
of people. No man among Lis neighbors had a wider 
intelligence, or more eager and comprehensive mind. 
No man of his age stoqd better in his profession, or in 
polities. No one was in a fairer road to happiness and 
success. And all this had been accomplished through 
his own exertion, and the favor which his many noble 
traits awakened in those around him. 

He might well exult in view of all that had been, and 
all that was. 

But, however this may have been, Lincoln did not 
pause to exult. He exulted in full career; for already 
the great battle of 1844 was approaching, add he was to 
take a prominent part in the contest. Many of the peo- 
ple of Illinois have distinct recollection of the brilliant 
debates which he conducted with Calhoun and Thomas, 
and these are loth to concede that they have ever been 
surpassed. The debaters met in all the principal cities 
and towns of that State, and afterward carried the war 
into Indiana. 

It may bo supposed that the fortunes of the war varied, 
but there are popular stories related of these encounters 
that give rather amusing results of one of Lincoln's fre- 
quent successes. 

The contest turned upon the annexation of Texas, to 
Avhich measure Lincoln was opposed, in proportion as 
he loved and honored Henry Clay. It has been said 
that no man ever had such friends as Clay possessed. 
It may be said that ho never possessed a friend more 


ardent, attached, and faithful than Abraham Lincoln. 
Throughout that disastrous campaign of 1844, Lincoln 
■was a zealous and indefatigable soldier in the Whig 
cause. His name was on the electoral ticket of Illinois, 
and he shared the defeat of his gallant leader — a defeat 
•which precipitated the Mexican war, with its attendant 
evils, and the long train of dissensions, discords, and 
pro-slavery aggressions which have followed. 

In the lull which comes after a Presidential battle, 
Lincoln, while mingling in State politics, devoted him- 
self more particularly to professional affixirs, though he 
continued an enemy to the Mexican war, and his election 
to Congress in 1846, took place in full view of this en- 
mity. It is worthy of note, in this connection, that he 
was the only Whig elected in Illinois at that time. 


The period over which Lincoln's Congressional career 
extends, is one of the most interesting of our history. 

Mr. Polk's favorite scheme of a war of glory and 
aggrandizement, had been in full course of unsatisfactory 
experiment. Our little army in Mexico had conquered a 
peace as rapidly as possible. The battles of Palo Alto, 
Reseca de la Palma, Monterey, Buena Vista, Cerro Gordo, 
and the rest, had been fought to the triumph and honor 
of the American arms. Everywhere, the people had re- 
garded these successes with patriotic pride. They had 
felt a yet deeper interest in them because the volunteer 
system had taken the war out of the hands of mercena- 
ries, and made it, in some sort, the crusade of Anglo- 
Saxon civilization and vigor against the semi-barbarism 
and effeteness of the Mexican and Spanish races. 

Yet, notwithstanding the popular character thus given 
to the army, the war itself had not increased in popu- 
larity. People, in their sober second thought, rejected 
the specious creed, " Our country, riglit or wrong," and 
many looked forward earnestly and anxiously to a con- 
clusion of hostilities. 

The elections of Congressmen had taken place^ and in 


the Thirtieth Congress, which assembled on the 6th of 
December, 1847, the people, by a majority of seven 
Whigs in the House, pronounced against the war, 
though hardly more than a year had elapsed since their 
Eepresentatives, by a vote of one hundred and twenty- 
two to fourteen, had declared war to exist through the 
act of Mexico. 

In those days, great men shaped the destinies of the 
nation. In the Senate sat Clay, Calhoun, Benton, Web- 
ster, Corwin. In the House were Palfrey, Winthrop, 
Wilmot, Giddings, Adams. 

The new member from Illinois, who had distinguished 
himself in 1844 as the friend of Clay and the enemy 
of Texan annexation, took his seat among these great 
men as a representative of the purest Whig principles; 
he was opposed to the war, as Corwin was; he was anti- 
slavery, as Clay was ; he favored internal improvements, 
as all the great Whigs did. 

And as Abraham Lincoln never sat astride of any 
fence, unless in his rail-splitting days ; as water was 
never carried on both of his square shoulders; as his 
prayers to Heaven have never been made with reference 
to a compromise with other powers; so, throughout his 
Congressional career, you find him the bold advocate of 
the principles which he believed to be right. He never 
dodged a vote. He never minced matters with his oppo- 
nents. He had not been fifteen days in the House when 
be made known what manner of man he was. 

On the 22d of December he oflfcred a series of reso- 


lutions,* making the most damaging inquiries of the 
President, as to the verity of certain statements in his 
messages of May and December. Mr. Polk had repre- 

■■' Tho following are the resolutions, which It is judged best to print here ia 

" Whereas, the President of the United States, in his Message of May 11, 
184B, has declared that ' the Mexican government refused to receive him, [tlie 
envoy of the United States,] or listen to his propositions, but, after a long-con- 
tinued series of menaces, have at last invaded our territory, and shed the blood of 
our fellow-citizens on our own soil.' 

" And again, in his Message of December 8, 181G, that 'we had ample cause of 
■war against Mexico long before the breaking out of hostilities; but even then 
we forbore to take redress into our own hands, until Mexico basely became the 
aggressor, by invading our soil in hostile array, and shedding the blood of our 

"And yet again, in his Message of December 7, 1817, 'The Mexican govern- 
ment refused even to hear tho terms of adjustment which he (our minister of 
peace) was authorized to propose, and finally, under wholly unjustifiable pre- 
texts, involved the two countries in war, by invading the territory of the State 
of Texas, striking the first blow, and shedding the blood of our citizens on our 
own soil.' 

"And whereas this House is desirous to obtain a full knowledge of all tha 
facts which go to establish whether the particular spot on which the blood of 
our citizens wa-s so shed, was, or was not, at tliat time, our own soil. Therefore, 

" Hesolved, hy the House of Bepresentotires, That the President of tho United 
States be respectfully requested to inform this House — 

" 1st. Whether the spot on which the blood of our citizens was shed, as in his 
memorial declared, was, or was not within the territory of Spain, at least, after 
the treaty of 1819, until the Mexican revolution. 

" 2d. Whether that spot is, or is not v/ithin the territory which was wrested 
from Spain by the revolutionary government of Mexico. 

"3d. Whether that spot is, or is not within a settlement of peoi.le, which set- 
tlement has existed ever since long before the Texas Re-volution, and until its 
inhabitants fled before the approach of the United States army. 

" 4th. Whether that settlement is, or is not isolated from any and all other 
settlements of the Gulf and tho Kio Grande on the south and west, and of wide 
uninhabited regions on the north and east. 

"5th. Whether the people of that settlement, or a majority of them, h.ave 
ever submitted themselves to the government or laws of Texas, or of the United 
States, of consent or of compulsion, either of accepting office or voting at elec- 
tions, or paying taxes, or serving on juries, or having process served on them 
or in any other way. 

" Cth. Whether the people of that settlement did or did not flee at tho ap- 


existing hostilities, by an invasion of American soil, and 
an effusion of American blood, after rejecting the friend- 
ly overtures made by this country. 

Mr. Lincoln's resolutions demanded to know whether 
the spot on which American blood had been shed, was 
not Mexican, or at least, disputed territory; whether the 
Mexicans who shed this blood had not been driven from 
their homes by the approach of our arms; whether the 
Americans killed were not armed soldiers sent into 
Mexican territory, by order of the President of the 
United States. 

Parliamentary strategy defeated the proposed inquiry, 
the resolutions going over under the rules. 

On the 12th of January, Mr. Lincoln made a speech'-?^ 
on the reference of different parts of the President's 
message. In this speech he justified a previous vote of 
sentiment, declaring that the war had been "unnecessa- 
rily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President 
of the United States." That vote had been pressed 
upon the opposition of the House, by the President's 

preaching of the United States army, leaving unprotected their homes and thoir 
growing crops before the blood was shed, as in the message stated; and whether 
tlie first blood so shed was, or was cot shed within the inclosure of one of tho 
people who had thns fled from it. 

"7th. Whether our citizens whose blood was shed, as in his message declared, 
were, or were not, at that time, armed officers and soldiers sent into that settle- 
ment by the military order of the President, through the Secretary of War. 

" Sth. Whether tlie military force of the United States was, or was not so sent 
into tliat settlement after General Taylor had more than once intimated to the 
AVar Department that, in his opinion, no such movement was necessary to the 
defense or protection of Texas."— Congressional Globe, vol. xviii, 1st session, 30tt 
Congress, page 04. 

* Globe Appendix, vol, xix, page 93. 


friends, in order to force an expression of opinion which 
should seem unjust to that functionary. Discussing 
this point, Mr. Lincoln coolly argued to conclusions 
the most injurious to the administration; showing that 
even though the President had attempted to construe a 
vote of supplies for the army into a vote applauding his 
official course, the opposition had remained silent, until 
Mr. Polk's friends forced this matter upon them. Mr. 
Lincoln then took up the arguments of the President's 
message, one by one, and exposed their fallacy ; and fol- 
lowing the line of inquiry marked out by his resolutions 
of December, proved that the first American blood shed 
by Mexicans, was in retaliation for injuries received from 
us, and that hostilities had commenced on Mexican soil. 
The speech was characterized by all the excellences of 
Lincoln's later style — boldness, trenchant logic, and dry 

He next appears in the debates,* as briefly advocating 
a measure to give bounty lands to the surviving volun- 
teer soldiers of the war of 1812, and arguing the pro- 
priety of permitting all soldiers holding land warrants, 
to locate their lands in different parcels, instead of re- 
quiring the location to be made in one body. 

As Lincoln is a man who never talks unless he has 
something particular to say, (rare and inestimable vir- 
tue !) a period of some-three months elapsed before he 
made another speech in Congress. On the 20th of June, 

Globe, vol. iviii, page 550. 


1848, the Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation bill being 
under consideration, he addressed to the House and 
the country, a clear and solid argument in favor of the 
improvement of rivers and harbors* As a "Western 
man, and as a man whom his own boating experiences 
had furnished with actual knowledge of the perils of 
snags and sawyers, he had always been in favor of a 
measure which commended itself at once to the heart 
and the pocket of the West. As the representative of a 
State with many hundred miles of Mississippi river, and 
vast river interests, he argued to show that an enlight- 
ened system of internal improvements, must be of na- 
tional as well as local benefit. f The prevailing Demo- 
cratic errors on this subject, as Mr. Lincoln succinctly 
stated them, were as follows : 

" That internal improvements ought not to be made 
by the General Government: 

" 1. Because they would overwhelm the Treasury. 

"2. Because, while their lunlcns would be general, 
their henejils would be local and partial^ involving an 
obnoxious inequality ; and, 

"3. Because they would be unconstitutional. 

"4. Because the States may do enough by the levy 
and collection of tonnage duties; or, if not, 

"5. That the Constitution may be amended. 

Glohe Appendix, vol. xix, page 709. ■ 
t This speech will be found printed at length in the appendix to the present 


'The sum," said Lincoln, "of these positions is, Do 
nothing at all, lest you do something wrong." 

He then proceeded to assail each of the positions, 
demolishing them one after another. That admirable 
simplicity of diction which dashes straight at the heart 
of a subject, and that singular good sense which teaches 
a man to stop when he is done, are no less the charac- 
teristics of this effort than of all the other speeches of 
Mr. Lincoln. 

Of a different manner, but illustrating a phase of his 
mind equally marked, is the speech he made in the 
House on the 27th of July,* when he discussed the 
political questions of the day with reference to the Pres- 
idential contest between General Taylor and Mr. Cass. 
It abounds in broad ridicule and broad drollery — the 
most effective and the most good-natured. Severe and 
sarcastic enough, when treating a false principle, it 
seems never to have been one of Lincoln's traits to 
indulge in bitter personalities. His only enemies, there- 
fore, are those who hate his principles. 

On the 21st of December, 1848, Mr. Gott, of New 
York, offered a resolution in the House, instructing 
the Committee on the District of Columbia to report a 
bill for the abolition of the slave-trade in that District. 
There were men in Congress then who had not forgot- 
ten the traditions of the Republican fathers, and who 
were indignant that slaves should be bought and sold 

" GhVe Appendix, vDl. sis, page ICHl. 


in the shadow of the capital — that the slave-trader should 
make the political metropolis of the Republic a depot 
on the line of his abominable traffic. 

As soon as the resolution of Mr. Gott was read, a mo- 
tion was made to lay it on the table, which was lost by 
a vote of eighty-one to eighty-five. A hot struggle en- 
sued ; but the resolution was adopted. An immediate 
attempt to reconsider proved ineffectual. The action 
upon reconsideration was postponed from day to day, 
until the 10th of January following, when Mr. Lincoln 
proposed that the committee should be instructed to re- 
port a bill forbidding the sale, beyond the District of 
Columbia, of any slave born within its limits, or the 
removal of slaves from the District, except such servants 
as were in attendance upon their masters temporarily 
residing at Washington; establishing an apprenticeship 
of twenty-one years for all slaves born within the District 
subsequent to the year 1850; providing for their emanci- 
pation at the expiration of the apprenticeship ; authoriz- 
ing the United States to buy and emancipate all slaves 
within the District, whose owners should desire to set 
them free in that manner; finally submitting the bill 
to a vote of the citizens of the District for approval. 

It is well known that the efforts to abolish the slave- 
trade in the District of Columbia have resulted in noth- 
ing.* The wise, humane, and temperate measure of Mr. 
Lincoln shared the fate of all the rest. 

*Mr. Lincoln's proposition had received the approval of Blayor Seaton, of 
WashingtbD, who informed him that it would meet the approbation of tha. 


Another great measure of the Congress in which Mr. 
Lincoln figured, was the Wilmot Proviso — now a favor- 
ite Eepublican measure — and so pervading, with its dis- 
tinctive principle (opposition to slavery extension) the 
whole Republican soul, that, whether in or out of plat- 
forms, it remains the life and strength of the party. To 
this measure Mr. Lincoln was fully committed. Indeed, 
it is a peculiarity of this man, that he has always acted 
decidedly one way or the other. lie thought the Mex- 
ican war wrong. He opposed it with his whole heart 
and strength. He thought the Wilmot Proviso right, 
and he says he " had the pleasure of voting for it, in one 
way or another, aljoutfortij times." 

Mr. Lincoln was one of those who advocated the 
nomination of General Taylor, in the National Whig 
Convention of 1848. Returning to Illinois after the 
adjournment of Congress, he took the stump for his 
favorite candidate, and was active throughout that fa- 
mous canvass. In 1819, he retired from Congress, firmly 
declining re-nomination, and resumed the practice of 
his profession. 

The position which he maintained in the House of 
Representatives was eminently respectable. His name 
appears oftener in the ayes and noes, than in the de- 
bates; he spoke therefore with the more force and effect 
when he felt called upon to express his opinion. 

learling citizens. Afterward, Southern Congressmen visited the M.iyor and 
persuaded him to withdraw the moral support given to the measure. WMien 
this had been done, the chief hope of success was destroyed, and tho bill, of 
which Mr. Lincoln gave notice, was uover introduced. 


The impression that his Congressional speeches give 
you, is the same left by all others that he has made. 
You feel that he has not argued to gain a point, but to 
show the truth ; that it is not Lincoln he wishes to sus- 
tain, but Lincoln's principles. 


Peace to tlie old "Whig party, -whicli is dead ! "When 
a man has ceased to live, we are cheaply magnanimous 
in the exaltation of his virtues, and we repair whatever 
wrong we did him when alive by remorselessly abusing 
every one who hints that he may have been an imper- 
ceptible trifle lower than the angels. 

It is with such post-mortem greatness of soul that 
the leaders of the Democracy have cherished the memory 
of the Whig party, and gone about the stump, clad in 
moral sackcloth and craped hats. 

If you will believe these stricken mourners, virtue 
went out with that lamented organization ; and there is 
but one true man unhanged in America, and he is a 
stoutish giant, somewhat under the middle size. 

In speaking, therefore, of the Whig party, you have 
first to avoid offense to the gentlemen who reviled its 
great men in their lifetime, and who have a fondness 
for throwing the honored dust of the past into the eyes 
of the present. Then, respect is due to the feelings of 
those Republicans who abandoned the Whig party only 
after the last consolations of religion had been admin- 
istered, and who still remember it with sincere regret. 

The prejudices of another class of our friends must 


be treated with decent regard. Very many old Demo- 
crats in the Republican ranks are earnestly persuaded 
that in former times they were right in their opposition 
to the Whigs. 

Yet one more variety of opinion must be consulted — 
the opinion that the Whig party had survived its useful- 
ness, and that all which was good in it has now entered 
upon a higher and purer state of existence in the Re- 
publican organization. 

Doubtless it would be better not to mention the Whig 
party at all. Unfortunately for the ends of strict pru- 
dence, the story of Abraham Lincoln's life involves 
allusion to it, since he was once a Whig, and became a 
Republican, and not a Democrat. But as every Repub- 
lican is a code of by-laws unto himself — subject only to 
the Chicago platform — perhaps we may venture to rever- 
ently speak of the shade which still, it is said, revisits 
the glimpses of Boston ; and to recount the events which 
preceded its becoming a shade. 

So early as 1848 the dismemberment of the Whig 
party commenced. It had been distinguished by many 
of the characteristics of the Republican party, among 
which is the reserved right of each member of the or- 
ganization to think and act for himself, on his own 
responsibility, as already intimated. Whenever its lead- 
ers deflected from the straight line of principle, their 
followers called them to account; and a persistence in 
the advocacy of measures repugnant to the individual 
sense of right, caused disaflFection. 


Many sincere and earnest men, who supported Henry 
Clay with ardor, ceased to be Whigs when General Tay- 
lor was nominated, because they conceived that his nom- 
ination was a departure from the Clay Whig principles 
of opposition to the Mexican war and the acquisition of 
slave territory. 

This is not the place to pronounce upon the wisdom 
or justice of their course. Others, as sincere and earnest 
as they, supported General Taylor, and continued to act 
with the Whig party throughout the Fillmore adminis- 

The assimilation of the two great parties on the slav- 
ery question in 1852, widened the distance between the 
Whigs and the Free Sellers, and the former were, in the 
opinion of the latter, demoralized before the election in 
which they suffered so total an overthrow, though they 
continued steadfast in their devotion to the Whig name 
until 1354, when the first organization of the Republi- 
cans took place, under the name j)f the Anti-Nebraska 

The Whig Free Sellers were eager and glad to frater- 
nize with their old friends; and all greeted with enthu- 
siasm the vast accessions which the new party received 
from the men who had given spiritual vitality to the 

Those members of both the old parties, who were 
particularly sensible to the attractions of office, those 
whom no pro-slavery aggression could render supe- 
rior to the luxury of a feeble or selfish acquiescence, 



also coalesced, and now constitute, witli a few sincere 
political reminiscences, the Democracy of the North. 

Up to the time of the repeal of the Missouri Compro- 
mise, Abraham Lincoln remained a Whig, both from 
conviction and affection. 

In 1848, he had made speeches in favor of the election 
of General Taylor, in Maryland, in Massachusetts, and 
in Illinois. In his own Congressional district, where 
his word has always been platform enough, the success 
of his canvass was declared by a majority of fifteen hun- 
dred for Taylor. 

After his retirement from Congress, he devoted him- 
self, with greater earnestness than ever before, to the 
duties of his profession, and extended his business and 
repute. He did not reappear in the political arena until 
1852, when his name was placed on the Scott electoral 

In the canvass of that year, so disastrous to the Whig 
party throughout the country, Lincoln appeared several 
times before the people of his State as the advocate of 
Scott's claims for the Presidency. But the prospect was 
everywhere so disheartening, and in Illinois the cause 
was so utterly desperate, that the energies of the Whigs 
were paralyzed, and Lincoln did less in this Presidential 
struggle than any in which he had ever engaged. 

During that lethargy which preceded the dissolution 
of his party, he had almost relinquished political aspir- 
ations. Successful in his profession, happy in his home, 
secure in the affection of his neighbors, with books, com- 


petence, and leisure — ambition could not tempt him. It 
required the more thrilling voice of danger to freedom, 
to call the veteran of so many good fights into the field. 
The call was made. 

It would be useless to recount here the history of the 
Missouri Compromise, and the circumstances attending 
the violation of that compact, though that history is 
properly a part of the biography of every public man in 
the country. Throughout the fierce contest which pre- 
ceded the repeal of the Compromise, and the storm of 
indignation which followed that repeal, the whole story 
was brought vividly before the people, and can not now 
have faded from their recollection. Those to whom it 
is yet strange, will find it briefly and faithfully related 
in the speech of Abraham Lincoln, made in reply to 
Douglas, at Peoria, in October, 1854.* 

'■ Piintpd in full in this volume. Douglas and Lincoln h;icl previously met at 
Springfield, where the latter played David to the abbreviated Goliah of the for- 
mer. Tlie following spirited sketch of the scene is by the editor of the Chicago 
Prexs and Trihtuie, who was present : 

"The affair came off on the fourth day of October, 1S5L The State Fair 
had been in progress two days, and the capital was full of all manner of men. 
The Nebraska bill had been passed on the previous twenty-second of Jlay. Mr. 
Douglas had returned to Illinois to meet an outraged constituency. He had 
made a fragmentary speech in Chicago, the people filling up each hiatus in a 
peculiar and good humored way. Recalled (he people a mob— they called him 
a rowdy. The 'mob' had the best of it, both then and at the election wliich 
Bucceeded. The notoriety of all these events had stirred up (he politics of the 
StJite from bottom to top. Hundreds of politicians had met at Springfield, ex- 
pecting a tournament of an unusual character — Douglas, Breeso, Koerner, Lin- 
coln, Trumbull, Matteson, Yates, Codding, John- Calhoun, (of the order of the 
CiinJle-box,) John M. Palmer, the whole house of the McConuells, Singleton, 
(known to fame in the Mormon war,) Thomas L. Harris, and a host of others. 
Several speeches were made before, and several sifter, the passage between Lin- 
coln and Douglas, but that was justly held to be the event of the season. 

" We do not remember whether a challenge to debate passed between th» 


The people were glad to hear the voice of their 
favorite once more, and Lincoln's canvass of Illinois was 
most triumphant. The legislative elections were held, 
and those who denounced the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise, were found to be in the majority. 

frienJs of the speakers or not, but there was a perfectly amicable understanding 
between Lincoln and Douglas, that the former should speak two or three hours, 
and the latter reply in just as little or as much time as he chose. Mr. Lincoln 
took the stand at two o'clock — a large crowd in attendance, and Mr. Douglas 
seated on a small platform in front of the desk. The first half hour of Mr. 
Lincoln's speech was taken up with compliments to his distinguished friend 
Judge Douglas, and dry allusions to the political events of the past few years. 
His distinguished friend. Judge Douglas, had taken his seat, as solemn as the 
Cock-Larie ghost, evidently with the design of not moving a muscle till it came 
his turn to spealc. The laughter provoked by Lincoln's exordium, however, soon 
began to make him uneasy ; and when Mr. L. arrived at his (Douglas's) speech, 
pronouncing the Missouri Compromise 'a sacred thing, which no ruthless hand 
would ever be reckless enough to disturb,' he opened his lips far enough- to 
remark, 'A first-rate speech !' This was the beginning of an amusing colloquy. 

"' Yes,' continued Mr. Lincoln, 'so affectionate was my friend's regard for 
this Compromise line, that when Texas was admitted into the Union, and it was 
found that a strip extended north of 36° aC, he actually introduced a bill extend- 
ing the line aud prohibiting slaverj' in the northern edge of the new State.' 

" 'And you voted against the bill,' said Douglas. 

" 'Precisely so,' replied Lincoln ; ' I was in favor of running the line a great 
deal deal further sonlh,' 

"'About this time,' the speaker continued, ' my distinguished friend intro- 
duced me to a particular friend of his, one David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania.' 

" 'I thought,' said Douglas, 'you would find him congenial company.' 

" ' So 1 did,' replied Lincoln. 'I had the pleasure of voting for his proviso, 
in one way and another, about forty times. It was a Democratic measure then, 
I believe. At any rate. General Cass scolded honest John Davis, of Massachu- 
setts, soundly, for talking away the last hours of the session, so that he (Cass) 
couldn't crowd it through. A propos of General Cass: if I am not greatly mis- 
taken, he has a prior claim to my distinguished friend, to the authorship of 
Popular Sovereignty. The old general has an infirmity for v.riting letters. 
Shortly after the scolding ho gave John Davis, he wrote his Nicholson letter' — 

" Douglas (solemnly)— 'God Almighty placed man on the earth, and told him 
to choose between good and evil. That was the origiu of the Nebraska bill I' 

"Lincoln — 'Well, the priority of invention being settled, let us award all 
credit to Judge Douglas for being the first to discover it.' 

" It would be impossible, in these limits, to give an idea of the strength of 


The election of a United States Senator took place the 
following winter, and General Shields was superseded. 
This gentleman, who, listening to the seductive persua- 
sions of his voicefui colleague, was said to have voted for 
the repeal of the Compromise against his own convictions, 
was a candidate for re-election. On the part of the op- 
position majority there were two candidates, Lincoln and 
Trumbull. The great body of the opposition voted 
steadily for the former on several ballots ; but some 
Democrats who had been elected on the anti-Nebraska 
issue, continued to cast their votes for Trumbull. 

Lincoln feared that this dissension might result in the 
election of a less positive man than Trumbull, and with 

Mr. Lincoln's argument. We deemed it by far the ablest effort of the campiiign, 
from whatever source. The occasion was a great one, anil the speaker was every 
way equal to it. Tho effect produced on the listeners was magnetio. No one 
who was present will ever forget the power and vehemence of the following 
passage : 

" My distinguished friend says it is an insult to the emigrants to Kansas and 
Nebraska to suppose they are not able to govern themselves. AVe must not slur 
over an argument of this kind because it happens to tickle the ear. It must be 
met and answered. I admit that the emigrant to Kansas and Nebraska is com- 
petent to govern himself, but,' the speaker rising to his full Light, '■I denyhU right 
lo govern antj olher persdii y/niiovr that peuson's consent.' Tlie applause which 
followed this triumphant refutation of a cunning falsehood, was but an earnest 
of the victory at the polls which followed jnst one month from that day. 

"When Mr. Lincoln had concluded, Mr. Douglas strode hastily to the stand. 
As usual, he employed ten minutes in tolling how grossly he had been abustd. 
KecoUecting himself, he added, 'though in a perfectly courteous manner' — 
abused in a perfectly courteous manner ! He then devoted half an hour to show- 
ing that it was indispensably necessary to California emigrants, Santa Fe trailers 
and others, to have organic acts provided for the Territories of Kansas and 
Nebraska— that being precisely the point which nobody disputed. Ilaviug 
established this premise to his satisfaction, Mr. Douglas launched forth into an 
argument wholly apart from the positions taken by Mr. Lincoln. lie had about 
half finished at si.x o'clock, when an ndjournment to tea was effected. The 
speaker insisted strenuously upon his right to resume in the evening, but wo 
believe the second part of that speech has not been delivered to this day. 


his usual unselfishness, appealed to his friends to vote 
for Trumbull, adjuring them by their friendship to him 
to make this concession of individual preference. His 
appeal was not in vain, and Trumbull was elected 

This, however, was not the first sacrifice which he made 
to conciliation and union. The anti-Nebraska party of 
the same year offered him the nomination for Governor; 
but in the existing state of organizations, he declined 
for the sake of the cause which all had espoused. It 
occurs in politics that a force which suddenly. rallies 
about a principle, may be disheartened by the choice of 
a leader whom recent animosities have rendered obnox- 
ious. Lincoln, as a Whig, had been one of the most 
decided and powerful opponents of Democracy in Illi- 
nois. The period since his opposition to many Demo- 
cratic members of the anti-Nebraska party had ceased 
was very brief, and old feelings of antagonism had not 
died away. He perceived that the advancement of him- 
self might impede the advancement of his principles. 
Doubtless, he could be elected Governor of Illinois, but 
the victory which bore him into office might be less 
brilliant and useful than that which could be achieved 
under another. He therefore withdrew his name, 
and threw his influence in favor of Governor Bissell, 
who had been a Democrat, and who was triumphantly 

It must be remembered that the Republican party had, 
as yet, no definite existence in Illinois. The anti-Ne- 


braska party was the temporary name of the Whigs, 
Democrats, and Free Soilers, who opposed the repeal of 
the Missouri Compromise. It is true that a Mass State 
Convention, with a view to forming a permanent organi- 
zation, had been held at Springfield, in October ; but 
many anti-Nebraska men, who still adhered to old names, 
had not taken part in it. The following resolutions 
were adopted at this Convention : 

"1. Eesolved, That vre believe this truth to be self-evident, that 
when parties become subversive of the ends for -which they are 
established, or incapable of restoring the Government to the true 
principles of the Constitution, it is the right and duty of the peo- 
ple to dissolve the political bands by which they may have been 
connected therewith, and to organize new parties upon such prin- 
ciples and with such views as the circumstances and exigencies 
of the nation may demand. 

" 2. Resolved, That the times imperatively demand the reorgan- 
ization of parties, and, repudiating all previous party attach- 
ments, names, and predilections, we unite ourselves together ia 
defense of the liberty and Constitution of the country, and will 
hereafter co-operate as the Republican party, pledged to the ac- 
complishment of the following purposes: To bring the adminis- 
tration of the Government back to the control of first principles; 
to restore Nebraska and Kansas to the position of free territories; 
that, as the Constitution of the United Stales vests in the States, 
and not in Congress, the power to legislate for the extradition of 
fugitives from labor, to repeal and entirely abrogate the Fugitive 
Slave law; to restrict slavery to those states in wliich it exists; 
to prohibit the admission of any more slave states into the Union; 
to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia; to exclude slavery 
from all the territories over which the General Government has 
exclusive jurisdiction; and to resist the acquirement of any 
more territories unless the practice of slavery therein forever 
shall have been pi'ohibited. 

" 8. Eesolved, That in furtherance of these principles we will use 
such Coustitutional and lawful means as shall seem best adapted 


to their accomplishment, and that we will support no man for 
office, under the General or State Government, who is not positive- 
ly and fully committed to the support of these principles, and 
whose personal character and conduct is not a guarantee that he 
is reliable, and who shall not have abjured old party allegiance 
and ties." 

In the course- of tlie first debate between Douglas and 
Lincoln, whicli was held at Ottawa, in August, 1858, 
Douglas read these resolutions, declaring that Lincoln 
had participated in the Convention, and assisted in their 
adoption. Lincoln met this earliest of a series of mis- 
representations with prompt denial, and proved that 
he was not a member of the Convention. 

The actual Republican party of Illinois, dates its form- 
ation from a period somewhat later; and Lincoln was 
one of the first members of the present organization. 
Not so ultra, probably, as the indignant men who framed 
the resolutions quoted, he was quite as firmly opposed to 
slavery. In the speech from which he read, in reply to 
the charge of Douglas, he gives with Wesleyan point, 
the reason why indifference to slavery should be ab- 
horred : 

" This declared indiiference, but, as I must think, 
covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I can not but 
hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of 
slavery itself I hate it because it deprives our repub- 
lican example of its just influence in the world — enables 
the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to 
taunt us as hypocrites — causes the real friends of free- 
dom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it 


forces so many really good men among ourselves into an 
open war with the very fundamental principles of civil 
liberty — criticising the Declaration of Independence, 
and insisting that there is no right principle of action 
but self-interest." 


In the Republican National Convention of 1856, Abra- 
ham Lincoln received one hundred and two votes for 
the Vice-Presidential nomination. When the standard- 
bearers of the party had been selected, he took his rank 
in the army of freedom, and engaged in the great con- 
jQict which followed. The Republicans showed their 
appreciation of his strength and ability by placing him 
at the head of their electoral ticket in Illinois ; and 
when in 1858 it was determined to give the Senatorial 
question the form of a popular contest, by the election 
of a Legislature pledged to the people, for or against 
Douglas, Abraham Lincoln was chosen without dissent 
as the champion of his party. 

Much might here be said with regard to his eminent 
fitness for the conduct of such a canvass ; but the result 
of the election, and his published debates with Douglas, 
are the best commentary upon his qualifications. 

The Republican State ticket of that year was carried 
by a decisive majority, and the Legislature was lost only 
through the unfair manner in which the State was dis- 
tricted, and which threw that body into the hands of 
the Democrats in spite of the popular will. 

It may not be improper to allude particularly to cir- 



curastances connected with the debates between Lincoln 
and Douglas, which have been so significant in their 
result, and which have practically made United States 
Senators in Illinois elective by the people instead of 
the Legislature. 

Lincoln's first great speech of that year was made at 
Springfield, on the 17th of June, before the State Con- 
vention which named him as the Republican candidate 
for Senator. In this speech he preached the moral con- 
flict, which has always existed and always must exist 
between the principle of freedom and the principle of 
slavery; noticed the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, 
the Dred Scott decision, and the revival of the slave- 
trade; and with masterly efi"ect exhibited the secret con- 
cert with which all the enemies of freedom had acted in 
their assaults upon our liberties. The speaker concluded 
with these memorable words, which every Republican 
should keep in mind, for they have gathered significance 
in the two years elapsed since their utterance : 

"Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted 
by, its own undoubted friends — those whose hands are 
free, whose hearts arc in the work — who do care for the 
result. Two years ago the Republicans of the nation 
mustered over thirteen hundred thousand strong. We 
did this under the single impulse of resistance to a com- 
mon danger, Avith every external circumstance against 
us. Of strange, discordant, and even hostile elements, 
we o-athered from the four winds, and formed and fought 


ciplined, proud, and pampered enemy. Did we brave all 
then, to falter now?- — now, when that same enemy is 
wavering, dissevered, and belligerent? The result is 
not doubtful. We shall not fail — if we stand firm, we 
sliaU not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mis- 
takes delay it, but, sooner or later, the victory is sure to 

The reply made by Douglas to this speech was on the 
occasion of his reception at Chicago in the July follow- 
ing. Lincoln was present, and spoke in the same city 
on the next day. Two more great speeches by Doug- 
las, and one more speech by Lincoln were made before 
they entered the lists in debate. 

In one of those speeches, Douglas found occasion — 
for he was then addressing Lincoln's old friends at 
Springfield — to pay his tribute to the worth and great- 
ness of his opponent: 

"You all know that I am an amiable, good-natured 
man, and I take great pleasure in bearing testimony to 
the fact that Mr. Lincoln is a kind-hearted, amiable, 
good-natured gentleman, with whom no man has a right 
to pick a quarrel, even if he wanted one. He is a wor- 
thy gentleman. I have known him for twenty-five years, 
and there is no better citizen, and no kinder-hearted 
man. He is a fine lawyer, possesses higli ability, and 
there is no objection to him, except the monstrous rev- 
olutionary doctrines with which he is identified." 

On the 24th of July, Lincoln wrote to Douglas pro- 
posing the debates whicb have since become so famous. 


Douglas uiade answer that " recent events had interposed 
difficulties in the way of such an arrangement," that the 
Democratic Central Committee had already made appoint- 
ments for him at different places; but in order to accom- 
modate Mr. Lincoln, he would meet him in seven of the 
nine Congressional Districts where they had not yet 
spoken. He expressed surprise, that if it was Lincoln's 
original intention to propose these debates, he should 
have waited until after the plan of the campaign had 
been arranged by the Democratic Central Committee; 
before he made known his proposition. 

This letter was also written on the 2J:th of July. On 
the 29th Lincoln replied, from Springfield: 

" Protesting that your insinuations of attempted un- 
fairness on my part are unjust, and with the hope that 
you did not very considerately make them, I proceed to 
reply. To your statement that 'It has been suggested, 
recently, that an arrangement had been made to bring 
out a third candidate for the United States Senate, who, 
with yourself, should canvass the State in opposition to 
me,' etc.,* I can only say, that such suggestion must 

* The following is the statement, in Douglas's letter, alluded to by Lincoln : 
"Besides, there is another consideration which should be kept in mind. It 
has been suggested, recently, that an arrangement had been made to bring out a 
third candidate for the United States Senate, who, with yourself, should canvass 
the State in opposition to me, with no other purpose than to insure my defeat, by 
dividing the Democratic party for your benefit. If I should malie this arrange- 
ment with you, it Is more than i)robable that this other candidate, who has a 
common object with you, would desire to becume a party to it, and claim the 
riglit to speak from the same stand ; so that he and you, ia concert, might be 
able to take the opening and closing speech in every caae." 


have been made by yourself, for certainly none such hag 
been made by or to me, or otherwise, to my knowledge. 
Surely, you did not deliberately conclude, as you insinu- 
ate, that I was expecting to draw you into an arrange- 
ment of terms, to be agreed on by yourself, by which 
a third candidate and myself, ' in concert, might be 
able to take the opening and closing speech in every 

"As to your surprise that I did not sooner make the 
proposal to divide time with you, I can only say, I made 
it as soon as I resolved to make it. I did not know but 
that such proposal would come from you ; I waited, re- 
spectfully, to see. It may have been well known to you 
that you went to Springfield for the purpose of agreeing 
on the plan of campaign ; but it was not so known to 
me. When your appointments were announced in the 
papers, extending only to the 21st of August, I, for the 
first time, considered it certain that you would make no 
proposal to me, and then resolved that, if my friends 
concurred, I would make one to you. As soon there- 
after as I could see and consult with friends satisfacto- 
rily, I did make the proposal. It did not occur to me 
that the proposed arrangement could derange your plans 
after the latest of your appointments already made. 
After that, there was, before the election, largely over 
two months of clear time. 

" For you to say that we have already spoken at Chi- 
cago and Springfield, and that on both occasions I had 
the concluding speech, is hardly a fair statement. The 


truth rather is this : At Chicago, July 0th, you mado 
a carefully-prepared conclusion on my speech of June 
16th. Twenty- four hours after, I made a hasty conclu- 
sion on yours of the 9th. You had six. days to prepare, 
and concluded on me again at Bloomington on the IGth. 
Twenty-four hours after, I concluded again on you at 
Springfield. In the mean time, you had made another 
conclusion on mc at Springfield, which I did not hear, 
and of the contents of which I knew nothing when I 
spoke ; so that your speech made in daylight, and mine 
at night, of the 17th, at Springfield, were both made in 
perfect independence of each other. The dates of mak- 
ing all these speeches will show, I think, that in the 
matter of time for preparation, the advantage has all 
been on your side ; and that none of the external cir- 
cumstances have stood to my advantage." 

Lincoln having left all the arrangements of time, 
place, and manner of debate to Douglas, the latter made 
the following proposition, which, (although it allowed 
Douglas four openings and closes to Lincoln's three, and 
so gave considerable advantage to him,) Lincoln prompt- 
ly accepted : 

"Bement, Piatt Co., III., July 30, 1858. 
" Dear Sir : 

" Your letter, dated yesterday, accepting my proposi- 
tion for a joint discussion at one prominent point in 
each Congressional District, as stated in my previous 
letter, wa? received this morning. 


"The times and places designated are as follows : 

Ottawa, La Salle county August 21st, 1858. 

Freeport, Stephenson county " 27th, 

Jonesboro, Union county September 15th, 

Charleston, Coles county " 18th, 

Galesburgli, Knox county October 7th, 

Quiucy, Adams county " 13th, 

Alton, Madison county " 15th, 

"I agree to your suggestion that we shall alternately 
open and close the discussion. I will speak at Ottawa 
one hour, you can reply, occupying an hour and a half, 
and I will then follow for half an hour. At Freeport, 
you shall open the discussion and speak one hour; I will 
follow for an hour and a half, and you can then reply 
for half an hour. We will alternate in like manner in 
each successive place. 

" Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

" S. A. Douglas. 
" Hon. a. Lincoln, Springfield, 111." 

In the intervals between the debates, which took place 
as arranged, both speakers addressed audiences sepa- 
rately, and the work on both sides was carried on with 
unflagging energy. 

No one, it seems to me, can read these debates with- 
out admiration of Lincoln's ability, courage, and truth, 
while the impression left by Douglas is that of a great 
mind bending all its energies to a purpose beneath it; 
of an acute logician resorting to sophistry when meeting 
his opponent's arguments, and to adroit misrepresenta- 


tion of language and position, wlien assailing bis opin- 

The questions discussed were substantially tbe same 
tbat are at issue now. Tbe spirit of pro-slavery aggres- 
sion takes many forms, but in nature remains unchanged. 
Lincoln pursued it tbrougb all its disguises, and ex- 
posed it at every turn. The subtlest and most audacious 
champion of slavery that had ever proved false to free- 
dom, was not equal to the conflict. As the pretended 
advocate of the right of every man to govern himself 
and regulate his own affiiirs, Douglas was full of words. 
When a flash of truth showed him the real advocate of 
one man's right to enslave another, he was dumb. The 
banner of popular sovereignty smote pleasantly upon the 
sight. When Lincoln reversed it, and men read the 
true inscription, they saw that it was the signal of dis- 
cord, oppression, and violence. There were old stains 
upon that gay piece of bunting; stains of blood from 
the cabin hearths of Kansas, and from the marble floor 
of the Senate hall; and a marvelous ill-odor of cruelty 
hung about it, as if it were, in fact, no better than the 
flag of a slave-ship. Where its shadow fell across the 
future of a State, civilization and humanity seemed to 
shrink back, and a race of bondmen and their masters 
thinly peopled a barren land that would have " laughed 
in harvests" in the light of freedom. 

The Douglas dogma never has been so thoroughly 
refuted, as by Lincoln's speeches in those debates; and 
Douglas himself never suff'ered such entire defeat, in the 


eyes of the country. The truth gave the victory to 
Lincoln ; a trick bestowed the Senatorship upon Doug- 

In May, 1859, -when the amendment to the Constitu- 
tion of Massachusetts, extending the term of naturaliza- 
tion, aroused the apprehensions of many German Re- 
publicans, Dr. Theodor Canisius, a German citizen of 
Illinois, addressed a letter to Lincoln, asking his opinion 
of the amendment, and inquiring whether he favored a 
fusion of the Republicans with the other elements of 
opposition in 1860. Writing from Springfield, Lincoln 
replies : 

"Massachusetts is a sovereign and independent State, 
and I have no right to advise her in her policy. Yet, 
if any one is desirous to draw a conclusion as to what I 
would do from what she has done, I may speak without 
impropriety. I say, then, that so far as I understand 
the Massachusetts provision, I am against its adoption, 
not only in Illinois, but in every other place in which 
I have the right to oppose it. As I understand the 
spirit of our institutions, it is designed to promote the 
elevation of men. I am, therefore, hostile to anything 
that tends to their debasement. It is well known that 
I deplore the oppressed condition of the blacks, and it 
would, therefore, be very inconsistent for me to look 
with approval upon any measure that infringes upon the 
inalienable rights of white men, whether or not they are 
born in another land or speak a different language from 
our own. 


" In respect to a fusion, I am in favor of it -whenever 
it can be effected on Republican principles, but upon 
no other rondiiion. A fusion upon any other platform 
■would be as insane as unprincipled. It would thereby 
lose the whole North, while the common enemy would 
still have the support of the entire South. The ques- 
tion in relation to men is different. There are good 
and patriotic men and able statesmen in the South whom 
I would willingly support if they would place them- 
selves on Ptepublican ground ; but I shall oppose the 
lowering of the Republican standard even by a lialrs- 

During the gubernatorial canvass of 1859, in Ohio, 
Lincoln was invited to address the people of that State, 
and appeared before them, at Columbus and Cincinnati, 
in September. The impression made was one of univer- 
sal favor ; and it was through the interest awakened by 
these speeches, that the Republican Central Committee 
and State officers of Ohio, were led to request copies of 
his debates with Douglas, for publication in book-form. 
The Ohioans went to hear him with full allowances for the 
exaggerations of Illinois enthusiasm ; when they had 
heard him, their own admiration equaled that of the 

It was, doubtless, with still greater surprise that New 
England and New York listened to him. Ilis speech at 
the Cooper Institute, in the commercial and intellectual 
metropolis, was the most brilliant success in everything 
that makes such an effort successful. His audience was 


vast in numbers, and profoundly attentive. They found 
him, indeed, lank and angular in form, but of fine 
oratorial presence; lucid and simple in his style, vigor- 
ous in argument, speaking with a full, clear voice. He 
addressed appeals of reason to the sense and conscience 
of his hearers, and skillfully hit the humor of a critical 
and unfamiliar people. 


The Republican National Convention, wliich assem- 
bled at Chicago on the lOtli of May, was no less marked 
by a diversity of preferences than a unity of interests. 
In three days it accomplished its work — the conciliation 
of men and the assimilation of sections on minor points 
of difference. In three days Abraham Lincoln was nom- 
inated, and the armies of the irrepressible conflict were 
united under the banner of the man who was the first 
to utter that great truth, which all men felt.* 

I need hardly recount the incidents of that Conven- 
tion, of which the great event has proven so satisfac- 
tory. They are all fresh in the minds of the people, 
who watched, hour by hour, and day by day, the pro- 
ceedings of one of the most distinguished bodies which 
ever assembled in this country. 

The Convention met in Chicago without factitious 
advantages. The failure of the Democracy to nominate 
at Charleston left the Republicans in the dark as to the 
champion whom they were to combat, and there was 
nothing to be gained by the choice of a man with refer- 
ence to a Democratic probability. 

* Soo Lincolu's sjieecli at Spriagfield, June 17, 1858. 


"What lay before the Convention, then, was the task 
of choosing a positive man embodying decided Repub- 
lican principles, whose strength and decision of opinions 
should attract one side of the party, while nothing in 
his history should repel the other. 

Up to the time of the third ballot, which resulted in- 
the nomination of Abraham Lincoln, all the indications 
were favorable to the success of William H. Seward. 
That great man, whom no fortuity can lessen in the 
proud regard of the party, had rallied to his cause a 
host of friends — attached, powerful, vigilant. These 
came to Chicago, and into the Convention, with a solid 
strength that swept everything before it. 

Mr. Lincoln was the only candidate upon whom a 
considerable number of those M'ho opposed Mr. Seward 
from policy, were united; but it was not until after two 
votes of sentiment that a sufficient force was diverted 
from other favorites to swell Mr. Lincoln's vote into a 

The leader of the New York delegation, who had 
worked so faithfully for Mr. Seward, was the first to 
move the unanimous nomination of Lincoln, which was 
done amid demonstrations of the wildest enthusiasm, in 
the wigwam of the Convention and throughout the city 
of Chicago. At the same instant the lightning flashed 
the tidings throughout the land, and in a thousand 
towns and cities the cannon thundered back the jubi- 
lant responses of the people. 

The fact of his nomination was at once telegraphed 


to Lincoln, at Springfield. He received it with charac- 
teristic quiet. Seated in the Illinois State Journal office, 
talking over the Convention with a number of friends, he 
■was approached by the telegraphic operator. " Mr. Lin- 
coln, you are nominated for the Presidency." Lincoln 
took the proffered dispatch in silence, and read it. At 
length he folded it carefully, and saying to the exuber- 
ant bystanders, " There is a little woman down street 
who would like to know something about this," went 
home to communicate the news to his wife. 

The little city of Springfield was in a phrensy of ex- 
citement; and that night all the streets were ablaze 
with bonfires, and thronged by the rejoicing Republi- 
cans. The fact of the nomination of the man whom 
every one of his fellow-townsmen regarded with pride, 
was excuse enough for all sorts of vocal and pyrotechnic 

The next day, the excursion train arrived from Chi- 
cago with a large number of delegates, and the Com- 
mittee appointed by the Convention to make Lincoln 
officially acquainted with his nomination. 

The deputation was received at Mr. Lincoln's house, 
and when the guests had assembled in the parlor, Mr. 
Ashmun, the President of the Convention, said : 

"I have, sir, the honor, in behalf of the gentlemen 
who are present, a Committee appointed by the Republi- 
can Convention, recently assembled at Chicago, to dis- 
charge a most pleasant duty. We have come, sir, under 


a vote of instructions to that Committee, to notify you 
that you have been selected by the Convention of the 
Republicans at Chicago, for President of the United 
States. They instruct us, sir, to notify you of that 
selection, and tliat Committee deem it not only respect- 
ful to yourself, but appropriate to the important matter 
which they have in hand, that they should come in per- 
son, and present to you the authentic evidence of the 
action of that Convention ; and, sir, -without any phrase 
■which shall either be considered personally plauditory to 
yourself, or which shall have any reference to the prin- 
ciples involved in the questions which are connected with 
your nomination, I desire to present to you the letter 
which has been prepared, and which informs you of the 
nomination, and with it the platform, resolutions, and 
sentiments which the Convention adopted. Sir, at your 
convenience we shall be glad to receive from you such a 
response as it may be your pleasure to give us." 

To this address Mr. Lincoln listened with grave atten- 
tion, and replied : 

"Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Committee: 

"I tender to you and through you to the Republican 
National Convention, and all the people represented in 
it, ray profoundest thanks for the high honor done me, 
which you now formally announce. Deeply, and even 
painfully sensible of the great responsibility which is 
inseparable from this high honor — a responsibility which 


I could almost wish had ftillen upon some one of the far 
more eminent men and experienced statesmen whose dis- 
tinguished names were before the Convention, I shall, 
by your leave, consider more fully the resolutions of the 
Convention denominated the platform, and without un- 
necessary or unreasonable delay, respond to you, Mr. 
Chairman, in writing, not doubting that the platform 
will be found satisfactory, and the nomination gratefully 

" And now I will not longer defer the pleasure of 
taking you, and each of you, by the hand." 

After this response, it is proper to immediately add the 
letter in which Mr. Lincoln has since formally accepted 
the nomination : 

" Springfield, Illinois, May 23, 1860. 
"Hon. Georoe Ashmun, 

'■President of the Republican National Convention : 

"Sir: I accept the nomination tendered me by the 
Convention over which you presided, of which I am 
formally apprised in the letter of yourself and others 
acting as a Committee of the Convention for that purpose. 
The declaration of principles and sentiments which ac- 
companies your letter meets my approval, and it shall 
be my care not to violate it, or disregard it in any part. 

"Imploring the assistance of Divine Providence, and 
with due regard to the views and feelings of all who 
were represented in the Convention, to the rights of all 


the states and territories and people of the nation, to 
the inviolability of the Constitution, and the perpetual 
union, harmony, and prosperity of ail, I am most happy 
to eo-operate for the practical success of the principles 
declared by the Convention. 

"Your obliged friend and fellow-citizen, 

" Abraham Lincoln." 

People who visit Mr. Lincoln are pleased no less at 
the simple and quiet style in which he lives, than at the 
perfect ease and cordiality with which they are received. 
The host puts off half his angularity at home, or hides 
it beneath the mantle of hospitality; and the hostess 
is found "a pattern of lady-like courtesy and polish," 
who "converses with freedom and grace, and is thor- 
oughly aufaii in all the little amenities of society," and 
who will "do the honors of the White House with 
appropriate grace." Intellectually, she is said to be 
little her husband's inferior. 

Lincoln's residence is a comfortable two-story frame 
house, not now new in appearance, and situated in the 
northeast part of Springfield. The grounds about it, 
which are not spacious, are neatly and tastefully kept. 

Mr. Lincoln's political room is an apartment in the 
State House, at the door of which you knock uncere- 
moniously, A sturdy voice calls out, "Come in!" and 
you find yourself in the presence of a man who rises 
to the hight of six feet three inches, as you enter. 
He shakes you with earnest cordiality by the hand — 


receiving you as in the old days he would have received 
a friend who called upon hira at his farm-work ; for those 
■who have always known him, say that, though Lincoln 
is now more distinguished, he has always been a great 
man, and his simple and hearty manners have undergone 
no change. You find him, in physique, thin and wiry, 
and he has an appearance of standing infirmly upon 
his feet, which often deceived those who contended with 
him in the wrestle, in his younger days. 

The great feature of the man's face is his brilliant and 
piercing eye, which has never been dimmed by any vice, 
great or small. His rude and vigorous early life contrib- 
uted to strengthen the robust constitution which he in- 
herited, and he is now, at fifty, in the prime of life, with 
rugged health, though bearing, in the lines of his f\ice, 
the trace of severe and earnest thought. 

The biographer's task ends here, and he does not feel 
that any speculations with regard to the future would be 
of great worth or pertinence, though conjecture is easy 
and a prophetic reputation possible. He prefers to leave 
the future of Lincoln to Providence and to the people, 
who often make history without the slightest respect to 
the arrangements of sagacious writers. 






The Convention was called to order, on tlie morning 
of the 16th, by Governor JMorgan, of New York. 

Mr. David Wilmot, of Pennsylvania, took the chair 
as temporary President. 

In the afternoon, Mr. George Ashmun, of Massachu- 
setts, was chosen permanent President. 



Resolved, That we, the delegated representatives of 
the Republican electors of the United States, in Conven- 
tion assembled, in the discharge of the duty we owe to 
our constituents and our country, unite in the following 
declarations : 

First. That the history of the nation during the last 
four years has fully established the propriety and neces- 
sity of the organization and perpetuation of the Repub- 
lican party, and that the causes which called it into 



existence are permanent in their nature, and now, more 
than evpr before, demand its peaceful and constitutional 

Second. That the maintenance of the principles pro- 
mulgated in the Declaration of Independence, and em- 
bodied in the Federal Constitution, is essential to the 
preservation of our Eepublican institutions, and that the 
Federal Constitution, the rights of the states, and the 
Union nf the states, must and shall be preserved. 

Third. That to the Union of the states this nation 
owes its unprecedented increase in population ; its sur- 
prising development of material resources; its rapid 
augmentation of wealth ; its happiness at home and its 
honor abroad, and we hold in abhorrence all schemes 
for disunion, come from whatever source they may ; and 
we congratulate the country that no Republican member 
of Congress has uttered or countenanced a threat of dis- 
union, so often made by Democratic members of Con- 
gress, without rebuke and with applause from their 
political associates; and we denounce those threats of 
disunion, in case of a popular overthrow of their ascend- 
ency, as denying the vital principles of a free govern- 
ment, and as an avowal of contemplated treason, which 
it is the imperative duty of an indignant people strongly 
to rebuke and forever silence. 

Fourth. That the maintenance inviolate of the rights 
of the states, and especially the right of each state to 
order and control its own domestic institutions, accord- 
ing to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that 
balance of power on which the perfection and endurance 
of our political faith depends, and we denounce the law- 
less invasion by an armed force of any state or territory, 
no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of 


Fifth. That the present Democratic administration has 
far exceeded our worst apprehensions in its measureless 
subserviency to the exactions ot* a sectional interest, as 
is especially evident in its desperate exertions to force 
the infamous Lecompton Constitution upon the protest- 
ing people of Kansas ; in construing the personal rela- 
tion between master and servant to involve an unqual- 
ified property in persons ; in its attempted enforcement 
cverj'where, on land and sea, through the intervention 
of Congress and the Federal courts, of the extreme 
pretensions of a purely local interest, and in its general 
and unvarying abuse of the power intrusted to it by a 
confiding people. 

Sixth. That the people justly view with alarm the 
reckless extravagance which pervades every department 
of the Federal Government; that a return to rigid econ- 
omy and accountability is indispensable to arrest the 
system of plunder of the public treasury by favored par- 
tisans ; while the recent startling developments of fraud 
and corruption at the Federal Metropolis show that 
an entire change of administration is imperatively de- 

Seventh. That the new dogma that the Constitution 
of its own force carries slavery into any or all the ter- 
ritories of the United States, is a dangerous political 
heresy, at variance with the explicit provisions of that 
instrument itself, with cotemporaneous exposition, and 
with legislative and judicial precedent; is revolutionary 
in its tendency, and subversive of the peace and har- 
mony of the country. 

Eighth. That the normal condition of all the terri- 
tory of the United States is that of freedom ; that as our 
republican fathers, when they had abolished slavery in 
all our national territory, ordained that no person should 


be deprived of life, liberty, or property, -without due pro- 
cess of law, it becomes our duty, by legislation, when- 
ever such legislation is necessary, to maintain this pro- 
vision of the Constitution against all attempt to violate 
it; and we deny the authority of Congress, or a Terri- 
torial Legislature, or of any individuals, to give legal 
existence to slavery in any territory of the United 

Ninth. That we brand the recent reopening of the 
African slave-trade, under the cover of our national 
flag, aided by perversions of judicial power, as a crime 
against humanity, a burning shame to our country and 
age; and we call upon Congress to take prompt and effi- 
cient measures for the total and final suppression of 
that execrable traffic. 

Tenth. That in the recent vetoes by their Federal 
Governors of the acts of the Legislatures of Kansas and 
Nebraska, prohibiting slavery in those territories, we 
find a practical illustration of the boasted Democratic 
principle of non-intervention and popular sovereignty, 
embodied in the Kansas and Nebraska bill, and a de- 
nunciation of the deception and fraud involved therein. 

Eleventh. That Kansas should, of right, be immedi- 
ately admitted as a state under the Constitution re- 
cently formed and adopted by her people, and accepted 
by the House of Representatives. 

Twelfth. That while providing revenue for the sup- 
port of the General Government by duties upon im- 
posts, sound policy requires such an adjustment of these 
imposts as to encourage the development of the indus- 
trial interest of the whole country; and we commend 
that policy of national exchanges which secures to the 
workingmen liberal wages, to agriculture remunerating 
prices, to mechanics and manufacturers an adequate re- 


ward for their skill, labor, and enterprise, and to the 
nation commercial prosperity and independence. 

Thirteenth. That we protest against any sale or alien- 
ation to others of the public lands held by actual set- 
tlers, and against any view of the Free Homestead policy 
which regards the settlers as paupers or supplicants for 
public bounty, and we demand the passage by Congress 
of the complete and satisfactory Homestead measure 
which has already passed the House. 

Funrtecnth. That the National Republican party is 
opposed to any change in our naturalization laws, or any 
state legislation by which the rights of citizenship hith- 
erto accorded to emigrants from foreign lands shall be 
abridged or impaired, and in favor of giving a full and 
efficient protection to the rights of all classes of citi- 
zens, whether native or naturalized, both at home and 

Fifteenth. That appropriations by Congress for River 
and Harbor improvements of a national character, re- 
quired for the accommodation and security of our ex- 
isting commerce, are authorized by the Constitution and 
justified by an obligation of the Government to protect 
the lives and property of its citizens. 

Sixteenth. That a railroad to the Pacific Ocean is im- 
peratively demanded by the interests of the whole coun- 
try ; that the Federal Government ought to render im- 
mediate and efficient aid in its construction, and that as 
preliminary thereto, a daily overland mail should be 
promptly established. 

Seventeenth. Finally, having thus set forth our dis- 
tinctive principles and views, we invite the co-operation 
of all citizens, however differing on other questions, 
who substantially agree with us in their affirmance and 


On motion of George William Curtis, of New York, 
the following was added to the second resolution : 

"That we solemnly reassert the self-evident truths 
that all are endowed by the Creator with certain ina- 
lienable rights, among which are those of life, liberty, 
and the pursuit of happiness; that governments are 
instituted among men to secure the enjoyment of these 
































Ehode Island 






New York 


New Jersey. 































District of Columbia 




New Hampshire. 



Rhode Island 


New York 

New Jersey 




















District of Columl 



















New Hampshire 


New York 




New Jersey 




















District of Columbia. 

- Total, 









































24 >2 

231 >< 




Mr. Lincoln being announced as nominated on the 
third ballot, Mr. Evarts, Chairman of the New York 
delegation, took the stand and said: 

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the National 
Republican Convention : The State of New York, by 
a full delegation, with complete unanimity of purpose 
at home, came to this Convention and presented to it.s 
choice one of its citizens, who had served the State 
from boyhood up, who had labored for and loved it. 


We came from a great state, with, as wc thought, a 
great statesman, (prolonged cheers ;) and our love of 
the great Republic for which we are all delegates — the 
great American Union — and our love of the great Re- 
publican party of the Union, and our love of our 
statesman and candidate, made us think that we did 
our duty to the country, and the whole country, in 
expressing our preference and love for him. (Loud 
cheers.) For, gentlemen, it was from Governor Seward 
that most of us learned to love Republican principles 
and the Republican party. (Renewed cheers.) His 
iSdelity to the country, the Constitution, and the laws, 
his fidelity to the party and the principle that the 
majority govern, his interest in the advancement of our 
party to its victory, that our country may rise to its 
true glory, induces me to assume to speak his senti- 
ments as I do indeed the opinions of our delegation, 
when I move you, as I do now, that the nomination 
of Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, as the Republican 
candidate for the sufi"rages of the whole country for 
the office of Chief Magistrate of the American Union, 
be made unanimous. (Enthusiastic cheers.) 


Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention : 
On behalf of the Illinois delegation I have been requested 
to make some proper response to the speeches that we 
have heard from our friends of the other states. Illinois 
ought hardly on this occasion to be expected to make a 
speech, or called upon to do so. We are so much elated 
at present that we are scarcely in a condition to collect 


our own thoughts, or to express them intelligently to 
those who may listen to us. 

I desire to say, gentlemen of the Convention, that 
in the contest through which we have just passed, we 
have been actuated by no feeling of hostility to the 
illustrious statesman from New York, who was in com- 
petition with our own loved and gallant son. We were 
actuated solely by a desire for the certain advancement 
of Republicanism. The Republicans of Illinois, be- 
lieving the principles of the Republican party are the 
same principles which embalmed the hearts and nerved 
the arras of our patriot sires of the Revolution ; that 
they are the same principles which were vindicated 
upon every battle-field of American freedom, were actu- 
ated solely by the conviction that the triumph of these 
principles was necessary not only to the salvation of our 
party, but to the perpetuation of the free institutions 
whose blessings we now enjoy ; and we have struggled 
against the nomination of the illustrious statesman of 
New York, solely because '^ve believed here that we 
could go into battle on the prairies of Illinois with 
more hope and more prospect of success under the 
leadership of our own noble son. No Republican who 
has a love of freedom in his heart, and who has marked 
the course of Governor Seward of New York, in the 
councils of our nation, who has witnessed the many 
occasions upon which he has risen to the very hight 
of moral sublimity in his conflicts with the enemies of 
free institutions; no heart that has the love of freedom 
in it and has witnessed these great conflicts of his, can 
do otherwise than venerate his name on this occasion. 
I desire to say only, that the hearts of Illinois arc to- 
day filled with emotions of gratification, for which they 
have no utterance. We are not more overcome by the 


triumpli of our noble Lincoln, loving him as we do, 
knowing the purity of his past life, the integrity of his 
character, and devotion to the principles of our party, 
and the gallantry with which we will be conducted 
through this contest, than we are by the magnanimity of 
our friends of the great and glorious State of New York 
in moving to make this nomination unanimous. On 
behalf of the delegation from Illinois, for the Republi- 
can party of this great and growing prairie State, I 
return to all our friends, New York included, our 
heartfelt thanks and gratitude for the nomination of 
this Convention. 


Gentlemen op the Convention : It becomes now 
my duty to put to you the last motion which, in the 
order of parliamentary law, the President has the power 
to propose. It will probably be the last proposition 
which he can ever make to most of you in any Con- 
vention. But before doing it, and before making a 
single other remark, I beg to tender you each and all 
my cordial thanks for the kind manner in which you 
have sustained me in the performance of the duties of 
this station. I confess to you, when I assumed it, I did 
it with some apprehension that I might not be able to 
come up to the expectations which had been formed. It 
was a bold undertaking, in every respect, and I know 
that I could not have accomplished it half so well as I 
have done, but for the extreme generosity manifested on 
all sides of the house. There was a solemn purpose 
here in the minds and in the hearts of not merely the 
Convention, but of the vast assemblage which has sur- 


rounded us, that before we separated we would accom- 
plish the high duty. That duty, gentlemen, we have 
accomplished. Your sober judgments, your calm delib- 
erations, after a comparison and discussion, free, frank, 
brotherly, and patriotic, have arrived at a conclusion at 
which the American people will arrive. Every symp- 
tom, every sign, every indication accompanying the Con- 
vention, in all its stages, are a high assurance of success, 
and I will not doubt, and none of us do doubt, that it 
will be a glorious success. 

Allow me to say of the nominee that, although it may 
be of no consequence to the American people or to you, 
they are both personally known to me. It was my good 
fortune to have served with Mr. Lincoln in the Congress 
of the United States, and I rejoice in the opportunity to 
say that there was never elected to the House of Repre- 
sentatives a purer, nor a more intelligent and loyal rep- 
resentative than Abraham Lincoln. (Great applause.) 
The contest through which he passed during the last 
two years has tried him as by fire; and in that contest in 
which we are about to go for him now, I am sure that 
there is not one man in this country that will be com- 
pelled to hang his head for anything in the life of Abra- 
ham Lincoln. You have a candidate worthy of the 
cause ; you are pledged to his success ; humanity is 
pledged to his success ; the cause of free government is 
pledged to his success. The decree has gone forth that 
he shall succeed. (Tremendous applause.) 

I have served also in public life with Hannibal Ham- 
lin. In the House of Representatives we were ranged 
on different sides. He was a firm Democrat of the old 
school, while I was as firmly, and perhaps too much so, 
a copy of the Webster school. (Applause.) Rut, as is 
known to many of the gentlemen who sit here before me 


to-day, there was always a sympatlietic chord between 
him and me upon the question that has brought us here 
to-day. (Great appUiuse.) And while the old divisions 
of party have crumbled away, and the force of circum- 
stances have given rise to new issues, it is not strange 
that we are found battling together in the common cause. 
I say then, gentlemen, that you have got a ticket worthy 
of the cause, and worthy of the country. 

Now, gentlemen, that we have completed so well, so 
thoroughly, the great work which the people sent us here 
to do, let us adjourn to our several constituencies; and, 
thanks be to God who giveth the victory, we will tri- 
umph. (Applause.) 






[The following speech is here republished, with the insertioa 
of Mr. Lincoln's views upon labor, and the ability of the laborer 
to become an employer. These were omitted in the first report, 
and the passages are supplied by the reporter for the present 

My Fellow-citizens of the State op Ohio : This 
is the first time in my life that I have appeared before 
an audience in so great a city as this. I therefore — 
though I am no longer a young man — make this appear- 
ance under some degree of embarrassment. But I have 
found that when one is embarrassed, usually the shortest 
way to get through with it is to quit talking or thinking 
about it, and go at something else. 

I understand that you have had recently with you my 
very distinguished friend, Judge Douglas, of Illinois, and 
I understand, without having had an opportunity (not 
greatly sought to be sure) of seeing a report of the speech 
that he made here, that he did me the honor to mention 
my humble name. I suppose that he did so for the pur- 
pose of making some objection to some sentiment at some 
time expressed by me. I should expect, it is true, that 
Judge Douglas had reminded you, or informed you, if 
you had never before heard it, that I had once in my life 



declared it as my opinion that this Government can not 
"endure permanently half slave and half free; that a 
house divided ajrainst itself can not stand," and, as I 
had expressed it, I did not expect tlie house to fall ; 
that I did not expect the Union to be dissolved ; but 
that I did expect that it would cease to be divided; that 
it would become all one thinq or all the other; that 
cither the opposition of slavery would arrest the further 
spread of it, and place it where the public mind would 
rest in the belief that it was in the course of ultimate 
extinction; or the friends of slavery will push it forward 
until it becomes alike lawful in all the states, old or new, 
free as well as slave. I did, fifteen months a2:o, express 
that opinion, and upon many occasions Judj^e Douglas 
has denounced it, and has greatly, intentionally or unin- 
tentionally, misrepresented my purpose in the expression 
of that opinion. 

I presume, without having seen a report of his speech, 
that he did so here. I presume that he alluded also to that 
opinion, in different language, having been expressed at a 
subsequent time by Governor Seward of New York, and 
that he took the two in a lump and denounced them ; that 
he tried to point out that there was something couched in 
this opinion which led to the making of an entire uni- 
formity of the local institutions of the various states of 
the Union, in utter disregard of the different states, which 
in their rature would seem to require a variety of insti- 
tutions, and a variety of laws, conlbrmiiig to the differ- 
ences in the nature of the different states. 

Not only so ; I presume he insisted that this was a 
declaration of war between the free and slave states — 
that it was the sounding to the onset of continual war 
between the different states, the slave and free states. 

This charge, in this form, was made by Judge Doug- 


las on, I believe, tlie 9th of July, 1858, in Chicago, in 
my hearing. On the next evening, I made some reply 
to it. I informed him that many of the inferences he 
drew from that expression of mine were altogether for- 
eign to any purpose entertained by me, and in so far as 
he should ascribe these inferences to me, as my purpose, 
he was entirely mistaken ; and in so far as he might 
argue that whatever might be my purpose, actions con- 
forming to my views would lead to these results, he 
might argue and establish if he could ; but, so far as 
purposes were concerned, he was totally mistaken as to 

When I made that reply to him — when I told him, on 
the question of declaring war between the different states 
of the Union, that I had not said that I did not expect 
any peace upon this question until slavery was extermi- 
nated ; that I had only said I expected peace when that 
institution was put where the public mind should rest in 
the belief that it was in course of ultimate extinction ; 
that I believed from the organization of our Government, 
until a very recent period of time, the institution had 
been placed and continued upon such a basis ; that we 
had had comparative peace upon that question through a 
portion of that period of time, only because the publio 
mind rested in that belief in regard to it, and that when 
we returned to that position in relation to that matter, I 
supposed we should again have peace as we previously 
had. I assured him, as I now assure you, that I neither 
then had, nor have, or ever had, any purpose in any way 
of interfering with the institution of slavery, where it 
exists. I believe we have no power, under the Constitu- 
tion of the United States; or rather under the form of 
Government under which we live, to interfere with the 
institution of slavery, or any other of the institutions of . 


our sister states, be they free or slave states. I declared 
then, and I now redeclare, that I have as little inclina- 
tion to interfere with the institution of slavery, where it 
now exists, through the instrumentality of the General 
Government, or any other instrumentality, as I believe 
we have no power to do so. 

I accidentally used this expression : I had no purpose 
of entering into the slave states to disturb the institution 
of slavery! So, upon the first occasion that Judge Doug- 
las got an opportunity to reply to me, he passed by the 
whole body of what I had said upon that subject, and 
seized upon the particular expression of mine, that I had 
no purpose of entering into the slave states to disturb 
the institution of slavery. " 0, no," said he, "he CLin- 
coln) won't enter into the slave states to disturb the 
institution of slavery; he is too prudent a man to do 
such a thing as that ; he only means that he will go on 
to the line between the free and slave states, and shoot 
over at them. This is all he means to do. He means to 
do them all the harm he can, to disturb them all he 
can, in such a way as to keep his own hide in perfect 

Well, now, I did not think, at that time, that that 
was either a very dignified or very logical argument; 
but so it was, I had to get along with it as well as I 

It has occurred to me here to-night, that if I ever do 
shoot over the line at the people on the other side of the 
line into a slave state, and purpose to do so, keeping my 
skin safe, that I have now about the best chance I shall 
ever have. I should not wonder that there are some 
Kentuekians about this audience; we are close to Ken- 
tucky ; and whether that be so or not, we ai-e on elevated 
ground, and by speaking distinctly, I should not wonder 


if some of the Kentuckians would hear me on the other 
side of the river. For that reason, I propose to address 
a portion of what I have to say to the Kentuckians. 

I say, then, in the first place, to the Kentuckians, that 
I am what they call, as I understand it, a "Black Repub- 
lican." I think slavery is wrong, morally and politically. 
I desire that it should be no further spread in these 
United States, and I should not object if it should grad- 
ually terminate in the whole Union. While I say this 
for myself, I say to you, Kentuckians, that I understand 
you difi"er radically with me upon this proposition ; that 
you believe slavery is a good thing ; that slavery is 
right ; that it ought to be extended and perpetuated in 
this Union. Now, there being this broad difi'erence be- 
tween us, I do not pretend in addressing myself to you, 
Kentuckians, to attempt proselyting you; that would be 
a vain efi"ort. I do not enter upon it. I only propose 
to try to show you that you ought to nominate for the 
next Presidency, at Charleston, my distinguished friend, 
Judge Douglas. In all that there is a difi'erence between 
you and him, I understand he is sincerely for you, and 
more wisely for you than you are for yourself. I will 
try to demonstrate that proposition. Understand now, I 
say that I believe he is as sincerely for you, and more 
wisely for you, than you are for yourselves. 

What do you want more than anything else to make 
successful your views of slavery — to advance the out- 
spread of it, and to secure and perpetuate the nationality 
of it? What do you want more than anything else? 
What is needed absolutely ? What is indispensable to 
you ? Why ! if I may be allowed to answer the ques- 
tion, it is to retain a hold upon the North — it is to retain 
support and strength from the free states. If you can 
get this support and strength from the free states you 


can succeed. If you do not get this support and thig 
strength from the free states, you are in the minority, 
and you are beaten at once. 

If that proposition be admitted — and it is undeniable 
— then the nest thing I say to you is, that Douglas, of 
all the men in this nation, is the only man that aflfords 
you any hold upon the free states; that no other man can 
give you any strength in the free states. This being so, 
if you doubt the other branch of the proposition, whether 
he is for you — whether he is really for you, as I have 
expressed it, I propose asking your attention for a while 
to a few facts. 

The issue between you and me, understand, is, that I 
think slavery is wrong, and ought not to be outspread, 
and you think it is right and ought to be extended and 
perpetuated. (A voice, "0 Lord.") That is my Kcn- 
tuckian I am talking to now. 

I now proceed to try to show you that Douglas is sin- 
cerely for you, and more wisely for you, than you are for 

In the first place, we know that in a Government like 
this, in a Government of the people, where the voice of 
all the men of that country, substantially, enters into the 
execution — or administration rather — of the Government 
— in such a Government, what lies at the bottom of all 
of it, is public opinion. I lay down the proposition, that 
Judge Douglas is not only the man that promises you in 
advance a hold upon the North, and support in the North, 
but that he constantly molds public opinion to your 
ends; that in every possible way he can, he constantly 
molds the public opinion of the North to your ends; 
and if there are a few things in which he seems to be 
against you — a few things which he says that appear to 
be against you, and a few that he forbears to say which 


you would like to have him say — you ought to remember 
that the saying of the one, or the forbearing to say the 
other, would lose his hold upon the North, and, by con- 
sequence, would lose his capacity to serve you. 

Upon this subject of molding public opinion, T call 
your attention to the fact — for a well-established fact it 
is — that the judge never says your institutron of slavery 
is wrong; he never says it is right, to be sure, but he 
never says it is wrong. There is not a public man in the 
United States, I believe, with the exception of Senator 
Douglas, who has not, at some time in his life, declared 
his opinion whether the thing is right or wrong; but 
Senator Douglas never declares it is wrong. He leaves 
himself at perfect liberty to do all in your favor which 
he would be hindered from doing if he were to declare 
the thing to be wrong. On the contrary, he takes all the 
chances that he has for inveigling the sentiment of the 
North, opposed to slavery, into your support, by never 
paying it is right. This you ought to set down to his 
credit. You ought to give him full credit for this much, 
little though it be, in comparison to the whole which he 
does for you. 

Some other things I will ask your attention to. He 
said upon the floor of the United States Senate, and he 
has repeated it, as I understand, a great many times, 
that he does not care whether slavery is "voted up or 
voted down." This again shows you, or ought to show 
you, if you would reason upon it, that he does not be- 
lieve it to be wrong; for a man may say, when he sees 
nothing wrong in a thing, that he does not care whether 
it be voted up or voted down ; but no man can logically 
say that he cares not whether a thing goes up or goes 
down, which to him appears to be wrong. You therefore 
have a demonstration in this, that to Judge Douglas's 


itiiiul, your favorite institution, -which you would have 
spread out, and made perpetual, is no wronLC. 

Another thing he tells you, in a speech made at Mem- 
phis, in Tennessee, shortly after the canvass in Illinois, 
last year. He there distinctly told the people that there 
was a " line drawn by the Almighty across this continent, 
on the one side of which the soil must always be culti- 
vated by slaves;" that he did not pretend to know ex- 
actly where that line was, but that there was such a line. 
I want to ask your attention to that proposition again : 
that there is one portion of this continent where the Al- 
mighty has designed the soil shall always be cultivated 
by slaves; that its being cultivated by slaves at that place 
is right ; that it has the direct sympathy and authority 
of the Almighty. Whenever you can get these Northern 
audiences to adopt the opinion that slavery is right on 
the other side of the Ohio ; whenever you can get them, 
in pursuance of Douglas's views, to adopt that sentiment, 
they will very readily make the other argument, which 
is perfectly logical, that that which is right on that side 
of the Ohio, can not be wrong on this ; and that if you 
have that property on that side of the Ohio, under the 
seal and stamp of the Almighty, when by any means it 
escapes over here, it is wrong to have Constitutions and 
laws " to devil " you about it. So Douglas is molding 
the public opinion of the North, first to say that the 
thing is right in your state over the Ohio river, and 
hence to say that that which is right there is not wrong 
here, and that all laws and Constitutions here, recogniz- 
ing it as being wrong, are themselves wrong, and ought 
to be repealed and abrogated. He will tell you, men of 
Ohio, that if you choose here to have laws against slav- 
ery, it is in conformity to the idea that your climate is 
not suited to it ; that your climate is not suited to slave 


labor, and therefore you have Constitutions and laws 
against it. 

Let us attend to that argument for a little while, and 
see if it be sound. You do not raise sugar-cane, (except 
the new-fashioned sugar-cane, and you won't raise that 
long,) but they do raise it in Louisiana. You don't 
raise it in Ohio because you can't raise it profitably, be- 
cause the climate don't suit it. They do raise it in Lou- 
isiana because there it is profitable. Now, Douglas will 
tell you that is precisely the slavery question. That 
they do have slaves there because they are profitable, and 
you don't have them here because they are not profitable. 
If that is so, then it leads to dealing with the one pre- 
cisely as with the other. Is there anything in the Con- 
stitution or laws of Ohio against raising sugar-cane? 
Have you found it necessary to put any such provision 
in your law ? Surely not ! No man desires to raise 
sugar-cane in Ohio ; but, if any man did desire to do so, 
you would say it was a tyrannical law that forbids his 
doing so; and whenever you shall agree with Douglas, 
whenever your minds are brought to adopt his argument, 
as surely you will have reached the conclusion, that al- 
though slavery is not profitable in Ohio, if any man 
wants it, it is wrong to him not to let him have it. 

In this matter Judge Douglas is preparing the public 
mind for you of Kentucky, to make perpetual that good 
thing in your estimation, about which you and I difi'er. 

In this connection let me ask your attention to another 
thing. I believe it is safe to assert that, five years ago, 
no living man had expressed the opinion that the negro 
had no share in the Declaration of Independence. Let 
me state that again : five years ago no living man had 
expressed the opinion that the negro had no share in the 
Declaration of Independence. If there is in this large 


audience any man who ever knew of that opinion heing; 
put upon paper as much as five years ago. I wiii he 
obliged to him now or at a subsequent time to show it. 

If that be true I wish you then to note the next fact ; 
that within the space of five years Senator Douglas, in 
the argument of this question, has got his entire party, 
so far as I know, without exception, to join in saying 
that the negro has no share in the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence. If there be now, in all these United States, 
one Douglas man that does not say this, I have been un- 
able upon any occasion to scare him up. Now, if none 
of you said this five years ago, and all of you say it now, 
that is a matter that you Kentuckians ought to note. 
That is a vast change in the Northern public sentiment 
upon that question. 

Of what tendency is that change? The tendency of 
that change is to bring the public mind to the conclusion 
that when men are spoken of, the negro is not meant; 
that when negroes are spoken of, brutes alone are con- 
templated. That change in public sentiment has already 
degraded the black man in the estimation of Douglas 
and his followers from the condition of a man of some 
sort, and assigned him to the condition of a brute. Now, 
you Kentuckians ought to give Douglas credit for this. 
That is the largest possible stride that can be made in 
regard to the perpetuation of your thing of slavery. 

A voice — " Speak to Ohio men, and not to Kentuck- 


Mr. Lincoln — I beg permission to speak as I please. 

In Kentucky perhaps, in many of the slave states cer- 
tainly, you are trying to establish the rightfulness of 
slavery by reference to the Bible. You are trying to 
show that slavery existed in the Bible times by Divine 
ordinance. Now, Douglas is wiser than you, for your 


own benefit, upon that subject. Douglas knows that 
whenever you establish that slavery was right by the 
Bible, it will occur that that slavery was the slavery of 
the tohife man — of men without reference to color — and 
he knows very well that you may entertain that idea in 
Kentucky as much as you please, but you will never win 
any Northern support upon it. lie makes a wiser argu- 
ment for you ; he makes the argument that the slavery of 
the black man, the slavery of the man who has a skin of 
a different color from your own, is right. He thereby 
brings to your support Northern voters who could not 
for a moment be brought by your own argument of the 
Bible-right of slavery. Will you not give him credit 
for that? Will you not say that in this matter he is 
more wisely for you than you are for yourselves? 

Now, having established with his entire party this 
doctrine, having been entirely successful in that branch 
of his efforts in your behalf, he is ready for another. 

At this same meeting at Memphis, he declared that, 
while in all contests between the negro and the white 
man, he was for the white man, but that in all questions 
between the negro and the crocodile he was for the negro. 
He did not make that declaration accidentally at Mem- 
phis. He made it a great many times in the canvass in 
Illinois last year, (though I don't know that it was re- 
ported in any of his speeches there,) but he frequently 
made it. I believe he repeated it at Columbus, and I 
should not wonder if he repeated it here. It is, then, a 
deliberate way of expressing himself upon that subject. 
It is a matter of mature deliberation with him thus to 
express himself upon that point of his case. It there- 
fore requires some deliberate attention. 

The first inference seems to be that if you do not 
enslave the negro you are wronging the white man in 


some -way or other; and that whoever is opposed to the 
negro being enslaved, is, in some way or other, against 
the white man. Is not that a falsehood? If there was 
a necessary conflict between the white man and the 
negro, I should be for the white man as much as Judge 
Douglas ; but I say there is no such necessary conflict. 
I say that there is room enough for us all to be free, and 
that it not only does not wrong the white man that the 
negro should be free, but it positively wrongs the mass 
of the white men that the negro should be enslaved ; 
that the mass of white men are really injured by the 
efi"ects of slave labor in the vicinity of the fields of their 
own labor. 

But I do not desire to dwell upon this branch of the 
question more than to say that this assumption of his is 
false, and I do hope that the fallacy will not long pre- 
vail in the minds of intelligent white men. At all 
events, you ought to thank Judge Douglas for it. It is 
for your benefit it is made. 

The other branch of it is, that in a struggle between 
the negro and the crocodile, he is for the negro. Well, 
I don't know that there is any struggle between the 
negro and the crocodile either. I suppose that if a 
crocodile (or, as we old Ohio river boatmen used to call 
them, alligators) should come across a white man, he 
would kill him if he could, and so he would a negro. 
But what, at last, is this proposition ? I believe that it 
is a sort of proposition in proportion, which may be 
stated thus: "As the negro is to the white man, so is 
the crocodile to the negro ; and as the negro may right- 
fully treat the crocodile as a beast or reptile, so the white 
man may rightfully treat the negro as a beast or reptile." 
That is really the " knip " of all that argument of his. 

Now, my brother Kentuckians, who believe in this, 


you ought to thank Judge Douglas for having put that 
in a much more taking way than any of yourselves have 

Again, Douglas's gi-eat pi-inciple, "Popular Sovereign- 
ty," as he calls it, gives you, by natural consequence, 
the revival of the slave-trade whenever you want it. If 
you question this, listen a while, consider a while, what I 
shall advance in support of that jDroposition. 

He says that it is the sacred right of the man who 
goes into the territories, to have slavery if he wants it. 
Grant that for argument's sake. Is it not the sacred 
right of the man who don't go there equally to buy 
slaves in Africa, if he wants them ? Can you point out 
the difference? The man who goes into the Territories 
of Kansas and Nebraska, or any other new territory, 
with the sacred right of taking a slave there which 
belongs to him, would certainly have no more right to 
take one there than I would, who own no slave, but who 
would desire to buy one and take him there. You will 
not say — you, the friends of Judge Douglas — but that 
the man who does not own a slave, has an equal right 
to buy one and take him to the territory, as the other 

A VOICE — "I want to ask a question. Don't foreign 
nations interfere with the slave-trade ?" 

Mr. Lincoln — Well! I understand it to be a principl© 
of Democracy to whip foreign nations whenever they 
interfere with us. 

Voice — " I only ask for information. I am a Repub- 
lican myself." 

Mr. Lincoln — You and I will be on the best terms ia 
the world, but I do not wish to be diverted from the 
point I was trying to press. 

I say that Douglas's Popular Sovereignty, establishing 


liis sacred iMglit in tlie people, if you please, if carried to 
its logical conclusion, gives equally the sacred right to 
the people of the states or the territories themselves to 
buy slaves, wherever they can buy them cheapest ; and 
if any man can show a distinction, I should like to hear 
liini try it. If any man can show how the jieople of 
Kansas have a better right to slaves because they want 
them, than the people of Georgia have to buy them in 
Africa, I want him to do it. I think it can not be done. 
If it is " Popular Sovereignty '' I'or the people to have 
slaves because they want them, it is " Popular Sovereign- 
ty " for them to buy them in Africa, because they desire 
to do so. 

I know that Douglas has recently made a little effort — 
not seeming to notice that he had a different theory — has 
made an effort to get rid of that. He has written a let- 
ter, addressed to somebody, I believe, who resides in 
Iowa, declaring his opposition to the repeal of the laws 
that prohibit the African slave-trade. He bases his op- 
position to such repeal, upon the ground that these laws 
are themselves one of the compromises of the Constitu- 
tion of the United States. Now it would be very inter- 
esting to see Judge Douglas, or any of his friends, turn 
to the Constitution of the United States and point out 
that compromise, to show where there is any compromise 
in the Constitution, or provision in the Constitution, ex- 
press or implied, by which the administrators of that 
Constitution are under any obligation to repeal the 
African slave-trade. I know, or at least I think I know, 
that the framers of that Constitution did expect that the 
African slave-trade would be abolished at the end of 
twenty years, to which time their prohibition against its 
being abolished extended. I think there is abundant 
cotemporaneous history to show that the framers of the 


Constitution expected it to be abolished. But -whilo 
they so expected, they gave nothing for that expectation, 
and they put no provision in the Constitution requiring 
it should be so abolished. The migration or importation 
of such persons as the states shall see fit to admit, shall 
not be prohibited, but a certain tax might be levied 
upon such importation. But what was to be done after 
that time? The Constitution is as silent about that, as 
it is silent, personally, about myself. There is absolute- 
ly nothing in it about that subject; there is only the 
expectation of the framers of the Constitution that the 
slave-trade would be abolished at the end of that time, 
and they expected it would be abolished, owing to pub- 
lic sentiment, before that time, and they put that provi- 
sion in, in order that it should not be abolished before 
that time, for reasons which I suppose they thought to 
be sound ones, but which I will not now try to enumerate 
before you. 

But while they expected the slave-trade would be 
abolished at that time, they expected that the spread of 
slavery into the new territories should also be restricted. 
It is as easy to prove that the framers of the Constitu- 
tion of the United States expected that slavery should 
be prohibited from extending into the new territories, as 
it is to prove that it was expected that the slave-trade 
should be abolished. Both these things were expected. 
One was no more expected than the other, and one was 
no more a compromise of the Constitution than the other. 
There was nothing said in the Constitution in regard to 
the spread of slavery into the territory. I grant that, 
but there was something very important said about it by 
the same generation of men in the adoption of the old 
ordinance of '87, through the influence of which, you 
here in Ohio, our neighbors in Indiana, we in Illinois, 


our neighbors in Michigan and Wisconsin are happy, 
prosperous, teeming millions of free men. That genera- 
tion of men, though not to the full extent members of 
the Convention that framed the Constitution, were to 
some extent members of that Convention, holding seats 
at the same time in one body and the other, so that if 
there was any compromise on either of these subjects, 
the strong evidence is, that that compromise was in favor 
of the restriction of slavery from the new territories. 

But Douglas says that he is unalterably opposed to the 
repeal of those laws ; because, in his view, it is a compro- 
mise of the Constitution. You Kentuckians, no doubt, 
are somewhat offended with that ! You ought not to be ! 
You ought to be patient ! You ought to know that if he 
said less than that, he would lose the power of "lugging" 
the Northern States to your support. Really, what you 
would push him to do would take from him his entire 
power to serve you. And you ought to remember how 
long, by precedent. Judge Douglas holds himself obliged 
to stick by compromises. You ought to remember that 
by the time you yourselves think you are ready to inau- 
gurate measures for the revival of the African slave-trade, 
that sufficient time will have arrived, by precedent, for 
Judge Douglas to break through that compromise. He 
says now nothing more strong than he said in 1849, when 
he declared in favor of the Missouri Compromise — that 
precisely four years and a quarter after he declared that 
compromise to be a sacred thing, which ''no ruthless hand 
would ever dare to touch," he, himself, brought forward 
the measure, ruthlessly to destroy it. By a mere calcula- 
tion of time, it will only be four years more until he is 
ready to take back his profession about the sacredness of 
the Compromise abolishing the slave-trade. Precisely as 
Roon as you arc ready to have his services in that direc- 


tion, by fair calculation, you may be sure of having 

But you remember and set down to Judge Douglas's 
debt, or discredit, that he, last year, said the people of 
territories can, in spite of the Dred Scott decision, exclude 
your slaves from those territories ; that he declared by 
'• unfriendly legislation," the extension of your property 
into the new territories may be cut oft" in the teeth of the 
decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. 

He assumed that position at Freeport, on the 27th of 
August, 1858. He said that the people of the territories 
can exclude slavery, in so many words. You ought, how- 
ever, to bear in mind that he has never said it since. You 
may hunt in every speech that he has since made, and he 
has never used that expression once. He has never seemed 
to notice that he is stating his views difierently from what 
he did then ; but, by some sort of accident, he has always 
really stated it diiferently. He has always, since then, 
declared that " the Constitution does not carry slavery 
into the territories of the United States, beyond the power 
of the people legally to control it, as other property." 
Now, there is a difi'erence in the language used upon that 
former occasion and in this latter day. There may or 
may not be a difiference in the meaning, but it is worth 
while considering whether there is not also a difference 
in meaning. 

What is it to exclude? Why, it is to drive it out; it 
is in some way to put it out of the territory ; it is to force 
it across the line, or change its character, so that as prop- 
erty it is out of existence. But what is the controlling 
of it "as other property?" Is controlling it as other 
property the same thing as destroying it, or driving it 
away ? I should think not. I should think the controll- 
ing of it as other property would be just about what you 


in Kentucky sliould want. I understand the controlling of 
property means the controlling of it for the benefit of the 
owner of it. While I have no doubt the Supreme Court 
of the United States would say " God speed " to any of 
the territorial Legislatures that should thus control slave 
property, they would sing quite a dilferent tune, if by the 
pretense of controlling it they were to undertake to pass 
laws which virtually excluded it, and that upon a very well 
known principle to all lawyers, that what a Legislature can 
not directly do, it can not do by indirection ; that as the 
Legislature has not the power to drive slaves out, they 
have no power by indirection, by tax, or by imposing bur- 
dens in any way on that property, to effect the same end, 
and that any attempt to do so would be held by the Dred 
Scott court unconstitutional. 

Douglas is not willing to stand by his first proposition 
that they can exclude it, because we have seen that that 
proposition amounts to nothing more nor less than the 
naked absurdity, that you may lawfully drive out that 
which has a lawful right to remain. He admitted at first 
that the slave might be lawfully taken into the territo- 
ries under the Constitution of the United States, and yet 
asserted that he might be lawfully driven out. That being 
the proposition, it is the absurdity I have stated. He is 
not willing to stand in the face of that direct, naked, and 
impudent absurdity ; he has, therefore, modified his lan- 
guage into that of being '■'■controlled as other property.'' 

The Kentuekians do n't like this in Douglas ! I will 
tell you where it will go. He now swears by the court. 
He was once a leading man in Iljinois to break down a 
court, because it had made a decision he did not like. 
But he now not only swears by the court, the courts having 
got to working for you, but he denounces all men that do 
not swear by the courts, as unpatriotic, as bad citizens. 


When one of these acts of unfriendly legislation shall 
impose such heavy burdens as to, in eifect, destroy prop- 
erty in slaves in a territory, and show plainly enough 
that there can be no mistake in the purpose of the Legis- 
lature to make them so burdensome, this same Supreme 
Court will decide that law to be unconstitutional, and he 
will be ready to say for your benefit, " I swear by the 
court ; I give it up ;" and while that is going on, he has 
been getting all his inen to swear by the courts, and to 
give it up with him. In this again he serves you faith- 
fully, and, as I say, more wisely than you serve yourselves. 

Again : I have alluded in the beginning of these re- 
marks to the fact, that Judge Douglas has made great 
complaint of my having expressed the opinion that this 
Grovernment " can not endure permanently half slave and 
half free." He has complained of Seward for using dif- 
ferent language, and declaring that there is an " irrepress- 
ible conflict " between the principles of free and slave 
labor. [A voice — " He says it is not original with Sew- 
ard. That is original with Lincoln."] I will attend to 
that immediately, sir. Since that time, Hickman, of 
Pennsylvania, expressed the same sentiment. He has 
never denounced Mr. Hickman. Why ? There is a little 
chance, notwithstanding that opinion in the mouth of 
Hickman, that he may yet be a Douglas man. That is 
the difierence ! It is not unpatriotic to hold that opinion 
if a man is a Douglas man. 

But neither I, nor Seward, nor Hickman, is entitled to 
the enviable or unenviable distinction of having first ex- 
pressed that idea. That same idea was expressed by the 
Richmond Eiiqnirer, in Virginia, in 1856 ; quite two years 
before it was expressed by the first of us. And while 
Douglas was pluming himself, that in his conflict with 
my humble self, last year, he had "squelched out" that 


fatal heresy, as lie delighted to call it, and had suggested 
that if he only had had a chance to be in New York and 
meet Seward, he would have ''squelched" it there also, 
it never occurred to him to breathe a word against Pryor, 
I do n't think that you can discover that Douglas ever 
talked of going to Virginia to " squelch " out that idea 
there. No. More than that : that same Roger A. Pryor 
was brought to Washington City and made the editor of 
the jmr excellence Douglas paper, after making use of that 
expression, which, in us, is so unpatriotic and heretical. 
From all this, my Kentucky friends may see that this 
opinion is heretical in his view only when it is expressed 
by men suspected of a desire that the country shall all 
become free, and not when expressed by those fairly 
known to entertain the desire that the whole country shall 
become slave. When expressed by that class of men, it 
is in nowise offensive to him. In this again, my friends 
of Kentucky, you have Judge Douglas with you. 

There is another reason why you Southern people ought 
to nominate Douglas at your Convention at Charleston, 
That reason is the wonderful capacity of the man ; the 
power he has of doing what would seem to be impossible. 
Let me call your attention to one of these apparently im- 
possible things. 

Douglas had three or four very distinguished men of 
the most extreme antislavery views of any men in the 
Ptcpublican party, expressing their desire for his re-elec- 
tion to the Senate last year. That would, of itself, have 
Beemed to be a little wonderful, but that wonder is hight- 
ened when we see that Wise, of V^irginia, a man exactly 
opposed to them, a man who believes in the Divine right 
of slavery, was also expressing his desire that Douglas 
should be re-elected ; that another man that may be said 
to be kindred to Wise, Mr. Breckinridge, the Vice-Pres- 


ident, and of your own state, was also agreeing with the 
antislavery men in the North, that Douglas ought to bo 
re-elected. Still to heighten the wonder, a Senator from 
Kentucky, whom I have always loved with an affection as 
tender and endearing as I have ever loved any man ; who 
was opposed to the antislavery men for reasons which 
seemed sufficient to him, and equally opposed to Wise 
and Breckinridge, was writing letters into Illinois to se- 
cure the re-election of Douglas. 

Now that all these conflicting elements should be 
brought, while at dagger's points, with one another, to 
support him, is a feat that is worthy for you to note and 
consider. It is quite probable that each of these classes 
of men thought, by the re-election of Douglas, their 
peculiar views would gain something; it is probable that 
the antislavery men thought their views would gain 
something; that Wise and Breckinridge thought so too, 
as regards their opinions ; that Mr. Crittenden thought 
that his views would gain something, although he was 
opposed to both these other men. It is probable that 
each and all of them thought that they were using Doug- 
las, and it is yet an unsolved problem whether he was 
not using them all. If he was, then it is for you to 
consider whether that power to perform wonders, is one 
for you lightly to throw away. 

There is one other thing that I will say to you in this 
relation. It is but my opinion, I give it to you without 
a fee. It is my opinion that it is for you to take him or 
be defeated ; and that if you do take him you may be 
beaten. You will surely be beaten if you do not take 
him. We, the Republicans and others forming the op- 
position of the country, intend to "stand by our guns," 
to be patient and firm, and in the long run to beat you 
■whether you take him or not. We know that before we 


fairly heat you, Tve have to heat you both together. We 
know that you arc "all of a feather," and that we have 
to beat you altogether, and we expect to do it. We 
don't intend to be very impatient about it. We mean 
to be as deliberate and calm about it as it is possible to 
be, but as firm and resolved as it is possible for men to 
be. When we do as we say, beat you, you perhaps want 
to know what we will do with you. 

I will tell you, so far as I am authorized to speak for 
the opposition, what we mean to do with you. We mean 
to treat you, as near as we possibly can, as Washington, 
Jefferson, and Madison treated you. We mean to leave 
you alone, and in no way to interfere with your institu- 
tion ; to abide by all and every compromise of the Con- 
stitution, and, in a word, coming back to the original 
proposition, to treat you, so far as degenerated men (if 
we have degenerated) may, according to the examples of 
those noble fathers — Washington, Jefferson, and Madi- 

We mean to remember that you are as good as we ; 
that there is no difference between us other than the 
difference of circumstances. We mean to recognize and 
bear in mind always that you have as good hearts in 
your bosoms as other people, or as we claim to have, 
and treat you accordingly. We mean to marry your 
girls when we have a chance — the white ones I mean ; 
and I have the honor to inform you that I once did 
have a chance in that way. 

I have told you what we mean to do. I want to know 
now, when that thing takes place, what do you mean to 
do? I often hear it intimated that you mean to divide 
the Union whenever a Republican, or anything like it, is 
elected President of the United States. 

A VOICE — That is so. 


Mr. Lincoln — '• That is so," one of them says ; I won- 
der if he is a Ken tuck ian ? 

A VOICE — He is a Douglas man. 

Mr. Lincoln — Well, then, I want to know what you 
are going to do with your half of it? Are you going 
to split the Ohio down through, and push your half 
oflF a piece? Or are you going to keep it right along- 
side of us outrageous fellows ? Or are you going to 
build up a wall some way between your country and 
ours, by which that movable property of yours can't 
come over here any more, to the danger of your losing 
it? Do you think you can better yourselves on that 
subject, by leaving us here under no obligation whatever 
to return those specimens of your movable property that 
come hither? You have divided the Union because we 
would not do right with you, as you think, upon that 
subject ; when we cease to be under obligations to do 
anything for you, how much better oflf do you think you 
will be? Will you make war upon us, and kill us all? 
Why, gentlemen, I think you are as gallant and as brave 
men as live ; that you can fight as bravely in a good 
cause, man for man, as any other people living; that you 
have shown yourselves capable of this upon various occa- 
sions ; but man for man, you are not better than we are, 
and there are not so many of you as there are of us. 
You will never make much of a hand at whipping us. 
If we were fewer in numbers than you, I think that you 
could whip us; if we were equal, it would likely be a 
drawn battle ; but being inferior in numbers, you will 
make nothing by attempting to master us. 

But perhaps I have addressed myself as long, or longer, 
to the Kentuckians than I ought to have done, inasmuch 
as I have said that whatever course you take we intend 
in the end to beat you. 


I propose to address a few remarks to our friends, by 
way of discussing with them tlie best means of keeping 
that promise that I have in good faith made. 

It may appear a little episodical for me to mention the 
topic of which I shall speak now. It is a favorite prop- 
osition of Douglas's that the interference of the General 
Government, through the ordinance of '87, or through 
any other act of the General Government, never has made 
or ever can make a free state ; that the ordinance of '87 
did not make free states of Ohio, Indiana, or Illinois. 
That these states are free upon his "great principle" of 
popular sovereignty, because the people of those several 
states have chosen to make them so. At Columbus, and 
probably here, he undertook to compliment the people 
that they themselves have made the State of Ohio free, 
and that the ordinance of '87 was not entitled, in any 
degree, to divide the honor with them. I have no doubt 
that the people of the State of Ohio did make her free 
according to their own will and judgment, but let the 
facts be remembered. 

In 1802, I believe, it was you made your first Con- 
stitution, with the clause prohibiting slavery, and you 
did it, I suppose, very nearly unanimously ; but you should 
bear in mind that you — speaking of you as one people — 
that you did so unembarrassed by the actual presence of 
the institution among you ; that you made it a free state, 
not with the embarrassment upon you of already having 
among you many slaves, which, if they had been here, 
and you had sought to make a free state, you would not 
know what to do with. If they had been among you, 
embarrassing difficulties, most probably, would have in- 
duced you to tolerate a slave Constitution instead of a 
free one, as indeed these very difficulties have constrained 
every people on this continent who have adopted slavery. 


Pray what was it that made you free? What kept you 
free? Did you not find your country free when you came 
to decide that Ohio should be a free state ? It is import- 
ant to inquire by what reason you found it so ? Let us 
take an illustration between the States of Ohio and Ken- 
tucky. Kentucky is separated by this river Ohio, not a 
mile wide. A portion of Kentucky, by reason of the 
course of the Ohio, is further north than this portion of 
Ohio, in which we now stand. Kentucky is entirely cov- 
ered with slavery — Ohio is entirely free from it. ^yhat 
made that difference? Was it climate ? No! A portion 
of Kentucky was further north than this portion of Ohio. 
Was it soil ? No ! There is nothing in the soil of the 
one more favorable to slave labor than the other. It was 
not climate or soil that caused one side of the line to be 
entirely covered with slavery, and the other side free of 
it. What was it? Study over it. Tell us, if you can, 
in all the range of conjecture, if there be anything you 
can conceive of that made that difference, other than that 
there was no law of any sort keeping it out of Kentucky, 
while the ordinance of '87 kept it out of Ohio ? If there 
is any other reason than this, I confess that it is wholl};- 
beyond my power to conceive of it. This, then, I offer 
to combat the idea that that ordinance has never made 
any state free. 

I do n't stop at this illustration. I come to the State 
of Indiana ; and what I have said as between Kentucky 
and Ohio, I repeat as between Indiana and Kentucky; 
it is equally applicable. One additional argument is ap- 
plicable also to Indiana. In her territorial condition she 
more than once petitioned Congress to abrogate the ordi- 
nance entirely, or at least so far as to suspend its opera- 
tion for a time, in order that they should exercise the 
"popular sovereignty" of having slaves if they wanted 


them. The men then controlling the General Govern- 
ment, imitating the men of the Revolution, refused Indi- 
ana that privilege. And so we have the evidence that 
Indiana supposed she could have slaves if it were not for 
that ordinance ; that she besought Congress to put that 
barrier out of the way ; that Congress refused to do so, 
and it all ended at last in Indiana being a free state. 
Tell me not, then, that the ordinance of '87 had nothing 
to do with making Indiana a free state, when we find 
some men chafing against and only restrained by that 

Come down again to our State of Illinois. The great 
Northwest Territory, including Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, 
Michigan, and Wisconsin, was acquired first, I believe, 
by the British Government, in part, at least, from the 
French. Before the establishment of our independence, 
it became a part of Virginia; enabling Virginia after- 
ward to transfer it to the General Government. There 
were French settlements in what is now Illinois, and at 
the same time there were French settlements in what is 
now Missouri — in the tract of country that was not pur- 
chased till about 1803. In these French settlements 
negro slavery had existed for many years — perhaps more 
than a hundred, if not as much as two hundred years — 
at Kaskaskia, in Illinois, and at St. Genevieve, or Cape 
Girardeau, perhaps, in 3Iissouri. The number of slaves 
was not very great, but there was about the same num- 
ber in each place. They were there when vre acquired 
the territory. There was no effort made to break up the 
relation of master and slave, and even the ordinance of 
1787 was not so enforced as to destroy that slavery in 
Illinois ; nor did the ordinance apply to Missouri at all. 

What I want to ask your attention to, at this point, is 
that Illinois and Missouri came into the Union about the 


same time, Illinois in the latter part of 1818, and Mis- 
souri, after a struggle, I believe some time in 1820. They 
had been filling up -with American people about the 
same period of time; their progress enabling them to 
come into the Union about the same. At the end of 
that ten years, in which they had been so preparing, 
(for it was about that period of time,) the number of 
slaves in Illinois had actually decreased; while in Mis- 
souri, beginning with very few, at the end of that ten 
years, there were about ten thousand. This being so, 
and it being remembered that Missouri and Illinois are, 
to a certain extent, in the same parallel of latitude — that 
the northern half of Missouri and the southern half of 
Illinois are in the same parallel of latitude — so that cli- 
mate would have the same effect upon one as upon the 
other, and that in the soil there is no material difference 
so far as bears upon the question of slavery being settled 
upon one or the other — there being none of those natural 
causes to produce a difference in filling them, and yet 
there being a broad difference in their filling up, we aro 
led again to inquire what was the cause of that differ- 

It is most natural to say that in Missouri there was no 
law to keep that country from filling up with slaves, while 
in Illinois there was the ordinance of '87. The ordi- 
nance being there slavery decreased during that ten 
years — the ordinance not being in the other, it increased 
from a i'ew to ten thousand. Can anybody doubt the 
reason of the difference? 

I think all these facts most abundantly prove that my 
friend Judge Douglas's proposition, that the ordinance 
of '87, or the national restriction of slavery, never had 
a tendency to make a free state, is a fallacy — a propo- 
sition without the shadow or substance of truth about it. 


Douglas sometimes says that all the states (and it is 
part of this same proposition I have been discussing) that 
have become free, have become so upon his "great prin- 
ciple ;" that the State of Illinois itself came into the 
Union as a slave state, and that the people, upon the 
" great principle " of Popular Sovereignty, have since 
made it a free state. Allow me but a little while to state 
to you what fiiets there are to justify him in saying that 
Illinois came into the Union as a slave state. 

I have mentioned to you that there were a few old 
French slaves there. They numbered, I think, one or 
two hundred. Besides that, there had been a territorial 
law for indenturing black persons. Under that law, in 
violation of the ordinance of '87, but without any en- 
forcement of the ordinance to overthrow the system, there 
had been a small number of slaves introduced as inden- 
tured persons. Owing to this the clause for the prohibi- 
tion of slavery was slightly modified. Instead of running 
like yours, that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, 
except for crime of which the party shall have been duly 
convicted, should exist in the state, they said that neither 
slavery nor involuntary servitude should thereafter be in- 
troduced, and that the children of indentured servants 
should be born free; and nothing was said about the 
few old French slaves. Out of this fact, that the clause 
for prohibiting slavery was modified because of the actual 
presence of it, Douglas asserts again and again that 
Illinois came into the Union as a slave state. How far 
the facts sustain the conclusion that he draws, it is for 
intelligent and impartial men to decide. I leave it with 
you with these remarks, worthy of being remembered, 
that that little thing, those few indentured servants be- 
ing there, was of itself suflficient to modify a Constitution 
made by a people ardently desiring to have a free Con- 


stitution ; showing the power of the actual presence of the 
institution of slavery to prevent any people, however 
anxious to make a free state, from making it perfectly so. 

I have been detaining you longer, perhaps, than I 
ought to do. 

I am in some doubt whether to introduce another topic 
upon which I could talk a while. [Cries of " Go on," 
and " Give us it."] It is this then : Douglas's popular 
sovereignty, as a principle, is simply this: If one man 
chooses to make a slave of another man, neither that man 
nor anybody else has a right to object. Apply it to gov- 
ernment, as he seeks to apply it, and it is this: if, in a 
new territory, into which a few people are beginning to 
enter for the purpose of making their homes, they choose 
to either exclude slavery from their limits, or to establish 
it there, however one or the other may affect the persons 
to be enslaved, or the infinitely greater number of per- 
sons who are afterward to inhabit that territory, or the 
other members of the family of communities of which 
they are but an incipient member, or the general head 
of the family of states as parent of all — however their 
action may affect one or the other of these, there is no 
power or right to interfere. That is Douglas's popular 
sovereignty applied. Now I think that there is a real 
popular sovereignty in the world. I think a definition 
of popular sovereignty, in the abstract, would be about 
this : that each man shall do precisely as he pleases with 
himself, and with all those things which exclusively con- 
cern him. Applied in government, this principle would 
be, that a general government shall do all those things 
which pertain to it, and all the local governments shall 
do precisely as they please in respect to those matters 
which exclusively concern them. 

[Upon what principle shall it be said the planting of 


a new territory by the first thousand people that migrate 
to it, is a matter concerning them exclusively? What 
kind of logic is it that argues that it in no wise con- 
cerns, if you please, the black men who are to be en- 
slaved? Or if you are afraid to say anything about 
that ; if you have been bedeviled for your sympathy for 
the negro; if noses have been turned up at you; and 
if you have been accused of having wanted the negro 
as your social equal, for a juror, to be a witness against 
your white brethren, or even to marry with him ; if you 
have been accused of all this, until you are afraid to 
speak of the colored race; — then, I ask you, what right 
is there to say that the planting of free soil with slavery 
has no efi'ect upon the white men that are to go there 
afterward as emigrants from the older states ? By what 
right do a few of the first settlers fix that first condition 
beyond the power of succeeding millions to eradicate it? 
Why shall a few men be allowed, as it were, to sow that 
virgin soil with Canada thistles, or any other pest of the 
soil, which the farmer, in subsequent ages, cannot erad- 
icate without endless toil. Is it a matter that exclu- 
sively concerns those few people that settle there first? 

Douglas argues that it is a matter of exclusive local 
jurisdiction. What enables him to say that? It is be- 
cause he looks upon slavery as so insignificant that the 
people may decide that question for themselves, albeit 
they are not fit to decide who shall be their governor, 
judge, or secretary, or who have been any of their ofii- 
cers. These are vast national matters, in his estimation ; 
but the little matter, in his estimation, is the planting 
of slavery there. That is of purely local interest, which 
nobody should be allowed to say a word about. It is a 
great national question that Sammedary shall be ap- 
pointed by the President as Governor of Kansas, that 


he may go there for a year or two, and come away with- 
out there being left behind him a sign for good or evil 
of his having been there ; but the question of planting 
slavery on that soil is a little, local, unimportant matter, 
that nobody ought to be allowed to speak of. Such an 
expression is absolutely shameful. 

Labor is the great source from which nearly all, if not 
all, human comforts and necessaries are drawn. There 
is a difference of opinion about the elements of labor in. 
a society. Some men assume that there is a necessary 
connection between capital and labor, and that connec- 
tion draws within it all of the labor of the community. 
They assume that nobody works unless capital excites 
him to work. They begin next to consider what is the 
best way for capital to be used to induce people to 
work. They say that there are but two ways; one is, 
to hire men and to allure them to labor by their own 
consent, and the other is, to buy the men, and drive 
them to labor. This latter is slavery. Having assumed 
so much, they proceed to discuss the question of whether 
the laborers themselves are better off in the condition 
of slavery or of hired laborers ; and they usually decide 
that they are better off in the condition of slaves. 

In the first place, I say that that whole theory is a 
mistake. That there is a certain relation between cap- 
ital and labor I admit. That it does exist, and right- 
fully exist, and that it is proper that it should exist, I 
think is true. I think, in the progress of things, that 
men who are industrious, and sober, and honest in the 
pursuit of their own interests, should, after a while, ac- 
cumulate capital, and then should be allowed to enjoy 
it in peace, and also, if they choose, when they have 
accumulated it, use it to save themselves from actual 
labor, by hiring other people to labor for them. la 


doing SO, tliey do not wrong the man they employ, for 
they find young men who have not of their own land to 
work upon, or shops to labor in, and who arc benefited 
by working for others in the capacity of hired laborers, 
receiving their capital for it. Thus, a few men that own 
capital, hire others, and thus establish the relation of 
capital and labor rightfully ; a relation of which I make 
DO complaint. But I insist that the relation, after all, 
does not embrace more than one-eighth of all the labor 
of the country. At least seven-eighths of the labor is 
done without relation to it. 

Take the State of Ohio. Out of eight bushels of 
wheat, seven are raised by those men who labor for 
themselves, aided by their boys growing to manhood, 
neither being hired nor hiring, but literally laboring 
upon their own hook, asking no favor of capital, of hired 
laborer, or of the slave. That is the true condition of 
the larger portion of all the labor done in this conmiu- 
nity, or that should be the condition of labor in well- 
regulated communities of agriculturists. Thus much for 
that part of the subject. 

Again : the assumption that the slave is in a better 
condition than the hired laborer, includes the further 
assumption that he who is once a hired laborer always 
remains a hired laborer; that there is a certain class of 
men who remain through life in a dependent condition. 
Then they endeavor to point out that when they get old 
they have no kind masters to take care of them, and 
that they fall dead in the traces, with the harness of 
actual labor upon their feeble backs. In point of fact 
that is a false assumption. There is no such thing as 
a man who is a hired laborer, of a necessity, always 
remaining in his early condition. The general rule is 
otherwise. I know it is so^ and I will tell you why. 


When at an early age, I was myself a hired laborer, at 
twelve dollars per month; and therefore I do know that 
there is not always the necessity for actual labor because 
once there was propriety in being so. My understand- 
ing of the hired laborer is this : A young man finds 
himself of an age to be dismissed from parental control; 
he has for his capital nothing, save two strong hands 
that God has given him, a heart willing to labor, and a 
freedom to choose the mode of his work and the man- 
ner of his employer; he has got no soil nor shop, and 
he avails himself of the opportunity of hiring himself 
to some man who has capital to pay him a fair day's 
wages for a fair day's work. He is benefited by avail- 
ing himself of that privilege. He works industriously, 
he behaves soberly, and the result of a year or two's 
labor is a surplus of capital. Now he buys land on his 
own hook; he settles, marries, begets sons and daugh- 
ters, and in course of time he too has enough capital 
to hire some new beginner. 

In this same way every member of the whole com- 
munity benefits and improves his condition. That is 
the true condition of labor in the world, and it breaks 
up the saying of these men that there is a class of men 
chained down throughout life to labor for another. 
There is no such case unless he be of that confiding and 
leaning disposition that makes it preferable for him to 
choose that course, or unless he be a vicious man, who, 
by reason of his vice, is, in some way prevented from 
improving his condition, or else he be a singularly unfor- 
tunate man. There is no such thing as a man being 
bound down in a free country through his life as a 
laborer. This progress b}' which the poor, honest, in- 
dustrious, and resolute man raises himself, that he may 
work on his own account, and hire somebody else, is 


tliat progress that human nature is entitled to, is that 
improvement in condition that is intended to be secured 
by those institutions under which we live, is the great 
principle for which this government was really formed. 
Our government was not established that one man 
Plight do with himself as he pleases, and with another 
man too. 

I hold that if there is any one thing that can be 
proved to be the will of God by external nature around 
us, without reference to revelation, it is the proposition 
that whatever any one man earns with his hands and by 
the sweat of his brow, he shall enjoy in peace. I say 
that whereas God Almighty has given every man one 
mouth to be fed, and one pair of hands adapted to fur- 
nish food for that mouth, if anything can be proved to 
be the will of Heaven, it is proved by this fiict, that that 
mouth is to be fed by those hands, without being inter- 
fered with by any other man who has also his mouth to 
feed and his hands to labor with. I hold if the Al- 
mighty had ever made a set of men that should do all 
the eating and none of the work, he would have made 
them with mouths only and no hands, and if he had ever 
made another class that he had intended should do all 
the work and none of the eating, he would have made 
them without mouths and with all hands. But inasmuch 
as be has not chosen to make man in that way, if any- 
thing is proved, it is that those hands and mouths are 
to be co-operative through life and not to be interfered 
with. That they are to go forth and improve their con- 
dition as I have been trying to illustrate, is the inherent 
right given to mankind directly by the Maker. 

In the exercise of this right you must have room. In 
the filling up of countries, it turns out after a while that 
we get so thick that wc have not r|uitc room enough for 


the exercise of that right, and we desire to go somewhere 
else. Where shall we go to ? Where shall you go to 
escape from over-population and competition? To those 
new territories which belong to us, which are God-given 
for that purpose. If, then, you will go to those territo- 
ries that you may improve your condition, you have a 
right to keep them in the best condition for those going 
into them, and can they make that natural advance in 
their condition if they find the institution of slavery 
planted there? 

My good friends, let me ask you a question — you who 
have come from Virginia or Kentucky, to get rid of this 
thing of slavery — let me ask you what headway would 
you have made in getting rid of it, if by popular sover- 
eignty you find slavery on that soil which you looked 
for to b"e free when you get there ? You would not 
have made much headway if you had found slavery 
already here, if you had to sit down to your labor by the 
side of the unpaid workman. 

I say, then, that it is due to yourselves as voters, as 
owners of the new territories, that you shall keep those 
territories free, in the best condition for all such of your 
gallant sons as may choose to go there. 

I do not desire to elaborate this branch of the general 
subject of political discussion at this time further. I 
did not think I would get upon this topic at all, and I 
have detained you already too long in its discussion.] 

I have taken upon myself, in the name of some of 
you, to say that we expect, upon these principles, to 
ultimately beat them. In order to do so, I think we 
want and must have a national policy in regard to the 
institution of slavery, that acknowledges and deals with 
that institution as being wrong. Whoever desires the 
prevention of the spread of slavery and the nationaliza- 


tion of that institution, yields all, M'lien he yields to any 
policy that either recognizes slavery as being right, or 
as being an indifferent thing. iSothing will make you 
successful but setting up a policy which shall treat the 
thing as being wrong. When I say this, I do not mean 
to say that this General Government is charged with the 
duty of redressing or preventing all the wrongs in the 
world; but I do think that it is charged with prevent- 
ing and redressing all wrongs which are wrongs to itself. 
This Government is expressly charged with the duty of 
providing for the general welfare. We believe that the 
spreading out and perpetuity of the institution of slavery 
impairs the general welfare. W^e believe — nay, we know, 
that that is the only thing that has ever threatened the 
perpetuity of the Union itself. The only thing which 
has ever menaced the destruction of the government 
under which we live is this very thing. To repress this 
thing, we think, is providing for the general welfare. 
Our friends in Kentucky differ from us. We need not 
make our argument for them ; but we, who think it is 
vrong in all its relations, or in some of them at least, 
must decide as to our own actions, and our own course, 
upon our own judgment. 

I say that we must not interfere with the institution 
of slavery in the states where it exists, because the Con- 
stitution forbids it, and the general welfare does not 
require us to do so. We must not withhold an efficient 
fugitive slave law; because the Constitution requires us, 
as I understand it, not to withhold such a law. But 
we must prevent the outspreading of the institution ; 
because neither the Constitution nor general welfare 
requires us to extend it. We must prevent the revival 
of the African slave-trade, and the enacting, by Congress, 
of a territorial slave code. W^e must prevent each of 


these things being done by either congresses or courts. 
The people of these United States are the rightful 
masters of both congresses and courts, not to overthrow 
the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert 
the Constitution. 

To do these things we must employ instrumentalities. 
We must hold conventions; we must adopt platforms, if 
we conform to ordinary custom ; we must nominate can- 
didates, and we must carry elections. In all these things, 
I think that we ought to keep in view our real purpose, 
and iu none do anything that stands adverse to our pur- 
pose. If we shall adopt a platform that fails to recog- 
nize or express our purpose, or elect a man that declares 
himself inimical to our purpose, we not only make nothing 
by our success, but we tacitly admit that we act upon no 
other principle than a desire to have "the loaves and 
fishes," by which, in the end, our apparent success is 
really an injury to us. 

I know that this is very desirable with me, as with 
everybody else, that all the elements of the Opposition 
shall unite in the next Presidential election and in all 
future time. I am anxious that that should be, but there 
are things seriously to be considered in relation to that 
matter. If the terms can be arranged, I am in favor 
of the Union. But, suppose we shall take up some 
man and put him upon one end or the other of the 
ticket, who declares himself against us in regard to the 
prevention of the spread of slavery — who turns up his 
nose, and says he is tired of hearing anything more 
about it — who is more against us than against the ene- 
my, what will be the issue? Why, he will get no slave 
states after all — he has tried that already, until being 
beat is the rule for him. If we nominate him upon 
that ground, he will not carry a slave state, and not 


only SO, but that portion of our men who are high- 
strung upon the principle ^ve really fight for, Avill not 
go for him, and he won't get a single electoral vote 
anywhere, except, perhaps, in the State of Maryland. 
There is no use in saying to us that we are stubborn 
and obstinate, because we won't do some such thing as 
this. We can not do it. We can not get our men to 
vote it. I speak by the card, that we can not give the 
State of Illinois, in such case, by fifty thousand. We 
■would be flatter down than the "Negro Democracy" 
themselves have the heart to wish to see us. 

After saying this much, let me say a little on the 
other side. There are plenty of men in the slave states 
that are altogether good enough for me, to be either 
President or Vice-President, provided they will profess 
their sympathy with our purpose, and will place them- 
selves on the ground that our men, upon principle, can 
vote for them. There are scores of them, good men in 
their character for intelligence and talent and integrity. 
If such a one will place himself upon the right ground, 
I am for his occupying one place upon the next Kepub- 
lican or Opposition ticket. I will heartily go for him. 
But, unless he does so place himself, I think it a mat- 
ter of perfect nonsense to attempt to bring about a 
union upon any other basis; that if a union be made, 
the elements will scatter so that there can be no success 
for such a ticket, nor anything like success. The good 
old maxims of the Bible are applicable, and truly appli- 
cable, to human affairs ; and in this, as in other things, 
we may say here that " He who is not for us is against 
us;" "He who gathereth not with us seattereth.^' I 
should be glad to have some of the many good, and able, 
and noble men of the South to place themselves where 
■we can confer upon them the high honor of an election, 


upon one or the other end of our ticket. It would do 
my soul good to do that thing. It would enable us 
to teach them that, inasmuch as we select one of their 
own number to carry out our principles, we are free 
from the charge that we mean more than we say. 

But, my friends, I have detained you much longer 
than I expected to do. I believe I may do myself the 
com,pliment to say, that you have stayed and heard me 
with great patience, for which I return you my most 
sincere thanks. 



JUNE 20, 1818. 

Lv Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, on the 
Civil and Diplomatic Appropriation Bill, Mr. Lincoi,n said: 

Mr. Chairman: I wish at all times in no w:iy to prac- 
tice any fraud upon the House or the Committee, and I 
also desire to do nothing which may be very disagree- 
able to any of the members. I therefore state, in ad- 
vance, that my object in taking the floor is to make a 
speech on the general subject of internal improvements ; 
and if I am out of order in doing so, I give the Chair 
an opportunity of so deciding, and I will take my seat. 

The Chair. — I will not undertake to anticipate what 
the gentleman may say on the subject of internal im- 
provements. He will, therefore, proceed in his remarks, 
and, if any question of order shall be made, the Chair 
will then decide it. 

Mr. Lincoln. — At an early day of this session the 
President sent to us what may properly be called an in- 
ternal-improvement veto message. The late Democratic 


Convention which sat at Baltimore, and which nominated 
General Cass for the Presidency, adopted a set of resolu- 
tions, now called the Democratic platform, among which 
is one in these words : 

"That the Constitution does not confer upon the General Gov- 
ernment the power to commence and carry on a general system 
of internal improvements." 

General Cass, in his letter accepting the nomination, 
holds this language : 

"I have carefully read the resolutions of the Democratic Na- 
tional Convention, laying down the platform of our political faith, 
and I adhere to them as firmly as I approve them cordially." 

These things, taken together, show that the question 
of internal improvements is now more distinctly made — ■ 
has become more intense, than at any former period. It 
can no longer be avoided. The veto message and the 
Baltimore resolution I understand to be, in substance, 
the same thing; the latter being the mere general state- 
ment, of which the former is the amplification — the bill 
of particulars. While I know there are many Demo- 
crats, on this floor and elsewhere, who disapprove that 
message, I understand that all who shall vote for Gen- 
eral Cass will thereafter be counted as having approved 
it, as having indorsed all its doctrines. I suppose all, or 
nearly all, the Democrats will vote for him. Many of 
them will do so, not because they like his position on 
this question, but because they prefer him, being wrong 
in this, to another whom they consider further wrong on 
other questions. In this way the internal improvement 
Democrats are to be, by a sort of forced consent, carried 
over, and arrayed against themselves on this measure 


of policy. General Cass, once elected, will not trouble 
liiiuself to make a constitutional argument, or, perhaps, 
any argument at all, when he shall veto a river or har- 
bor bill. He -will consider it a sufficient answer to all 
])emocratic murmurs, to point to ^Ir. Polk's message, 
and to the '-Democratic platform." This being the case, 
the question of improvements is verging to a final crisis; 
and the friends of the policy must now battle, and battle 
manfully, or surrender all. In this view, humble as I 
am, I wish to review, and contest, as well as I may, the 
general positions of this veto message. When I say 
general positions, I mean to exclude from consideration 
so much as relates to the present embarrassed state of the 
treasury, in consequence of the Mexican war. 

Those general positions are : That internal improve- 
ments ought not to be made by the General Govern- 

1. Because they would overwhelm the treasury. 

2. Because, while their J>tirihiis would be general, their 
henefUs would be local s.x\^\ j^iardal, involving an obnox- 
ious inequality ; and 

3. Because they would be unconstitutional. 

4. Because the States may do enough by the levy and 
collection of tonnage duties ; or, if not, 

5. That the Constitution may be amended. 

"Do nothing at all, lest you do something wrong," 
is the sum of these positions— is the sum of this mes- 
sage ; and this, with the exception of what is said about 
constitutionality, applying as forcibly to making im- 
provements by State authority, as by the national au- 
thority. So that we must abandon the improvements of 
the country altogether, by any and every authority, or we 
must resist and repudiate the doctrines of this message. 
Let us attempt the latter. 


The first position is, that a system of internal improve- 
ment -would overwhelm the treasury. 

That in such a system there is a tendency to undue ex- 
pansion, is not to be denied. Such tendency is founded 
in the nature of the subject. A member of Congress 
will prefer voting for a bill which contains an appropria- 
tion for his district, to voting for one which does not; 
and when a bill shall be expanded till every district shall 
be provided for, that it will be too greatly expanded is 
obvious. But is this any more true in Congress than in 
a State Legislature ? If a member of Congress must 
have an appropriation for his district, so a member of the 
Legislature must have one for his county ; and if one 
will overwhelm the national treasury, so the other will 
overwhelm the State treasury. Go where we will, the 
difficulty is the same. Allow it to drive us from the 
halls of Congress, and it will just as easily drive us from 
the State Legislatures. Let us, then, grapple with it, 
and test its strength. Let us, judging of the future by 
the past, ascertain whether there may not be, in the dis- 
cretion of Congress, a sufficient power to limit and re- 
strain this expansive tendency within reasonable and 
proper bounds. The President himself values the evi- 
dence of the past. He tells us, that at a certain point 
of our history, more than two hundred millions of dol- 
lars had been applied fur, to make improvements; and 
this he does to prove that the treasury would be over- 
whelmed by such a system. Why did he not tell us 
how much was granted? "Would not that have been 
better evidence? Let us turn to it, and see what it 
proves. In the message, the President tells us that 
" during the four succeeding years, embraced by the ad- 
ministration of President Adams, the power not only to 
appropriate money, but to apply it, under the direction 


and authority of the General Government, as well to the 
construction of roads as to the improvement of harbors 
and rivers, was fully asserted and exercised." 

This, then, was the period of greatest enormity. 
These, if any, must have been the days of the two hun- 
dred millions. And how much do you suppose was really 
expended for improvements during that four years ? 
Two hundred millions ? One hundred ? Fifty? Ten? 
Five? No, sir, less than two millions. As shown by 
authentic documents, the expenditures on improvements, 
during 1825, 1826, 1827, and 1828, amounted to $1,879,- 
627 01. These four years were the period of Mr. 
Adams's administration, nearly, and substantially. This 
fact shows, that when the power to make improvements 
" was fully asserted and exercised," the Congresses did 
keep within reasonable limits ; and what lias been done, 
it seems to me, can be done again. 

Now for the second position of the message, namely, 
that the burdens of improvements would be general^ 
while their henrfits would be local and jiartial^ involving 
an obnoxious inequality. That there is some degree of 
truth in this position I shall not deny. No commercial 
object of government patronage can be so exclusively 
general, as not to be of some peculiar local advantage ; but, 
on the other hand, nothing is so local as not to be of some 
general advantage. The navy, as I understand it, was 
established, and is maintained, at a great annual expense, 
partly to be ready for war, when war shall como, but 
partly also, and perhaps chiefly, for the protection of 
our commerce on the high seas. This latter object is, 
for all I can see, in principle, the same as internal im- 
l^rovements. The driving a pirate from the track of 
commerce on the broad ocean, and the removing a snag 
from its more narrow path in the Mississippi river, can 


not, I think, be distinguished in principle. Each is done 
to save life and property, and for nothing else. The navy, 
then, is the most general in its benefits of all this class 
of objects; and yet even the navy is of some peculiar 
advantage to Charleston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New 
York, and Boston, beyond what it is to the interior 
towns of Illinois. The next most general object I can 
think of, would be improvements on the Mississippi 
river and its tributaries. They touch thirteen of our 
states — Pennsylvania, A^'irginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, 
Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, In- 
diana, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Iowa. Now, I suppose it 
will not be denied, that these thirteen states are a little 
more interested in improvements on that great river than 
are the remaining seventeen. These instances of the 
navy and the Mississippi river, show clearly that there 
is something of local advantage in the most general ob- 
jects. But the converse is also true. Nothing is so 
local as not to be of some general benefit. Take, for 
instance, the Illinois and Michigan canal. Considered 
apart from its efi"eets, it is perfectly local. Every inch 
of it is within the State of Illinois. That canal was 
first opened for business last April. In a very few 
days we were all gratified to learn, among other things, 
that sugar had been carried from New Orleans, through 
the canal, to Buffalo, in New York. This sugar took 
this route, doubtless, because it was cheaper than the old 
route. Supposing the benefit in the reduction of the 
cost of carriage to be shared between seller and buyer, 
the result is, that the New Orleans merchant sold his 
sugar a little dearer, and the people of Buffalo sweetened 
their coffee a little cheajjer than before; a benefit result- 
ing from the canal, not to Illinois where the canal u, 
but to Louisiana and New York, where it is not. In 


other transactions Illinois will, of course, liavc her share, 
and perhaps the larger share too, in the benetits of the 
canal ; but the instance of the sugar clearly shows, that 
the henejits of an improvement are by no means confined 
to the particular locality of the improvement itself 

The just conclusion from all this is, that if the na- 
tion refuse to make improvements of the more general 
kind, because their benefits may be somewhat local, a 
state may, for the same reason, refuse to make an im- 
provement of a local kind, because its benefits may be 
somewhat general. A state may well say to the nation: 
" If you will do nothing for me, I will do nothing for 
you." Thus it is seen, that if this argument of "ine- 
quality" is sufficient anywhere, it is sufficient every- 
where, and puts an end to improvements altogether. I 
hope and believe, that if both the nation and the states 
would, in good faith, in their respective spheres, do what 
they could in the way of improvements, what of inequal- 
ity might be produced in one place might be compen- 
sated in another, and that the sum of the whole might 
not be very unequal. But suppose, after all, there 
should be some degree of inequality : inequality is cer- 
tainly never to be embraced for its own sake ; but is 
every good thing to be discarded which may be insepa- 
rably connected with some degree of it? If so, we must 
discard all government. This capitol is built at the pub- 
lic expense, for the public benefit ; but does any one 
doubt that it is of some peculiar local advantage to the 
property holders and business people of Washington? 
Shall we remove it for this reason? And if so, where 
shall we set it down, and be free from the difficulty? 
To make sure of our object, shall we locate it nowhere? 
And have Congress hereafter to hold its sessions, as the 
loafer lodged, " in spots about?" I make no special allu- 


sion to the present President when I say, there are few 
stronger cases in this world of, "burden to the many, and 
benefit to the few" — of "inequality" — than the Presi- 
dency itself is by some thought to be. An honest laborer 
digs coal at about seventy cents a day, while the Pres- 
ident digs abstractions at about seventy dollars a day. 
The coal is clearly worth more than the abstractions^ and 
yet what a monstrous inequality in the prices. Does 
the President, for this reason, propose to abolish the 
Presidency? He does not, and he o^ight not. The true 
rule, in determining to embrace or reject anj^thing, is 
not whether it have any evil in it, but whether it have 
more of evil than of good. There are few things wholly 
evil or wholly good. Almost everything, especially of 
governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the 
two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance 
between them is continually demanded. On this prin- 
ciple, the President, his friends, and the world gener- 
ally, act on most subjects. Why not apply it, then, 
upon this question ? Why, as to improvements, mag- 
nify the evil, and stoutly refuse to see any yood in them? 
Mr. Chairman, on the third position of the message, 
(the constitutional question.) I have not much to ssiy. 
Being the man I am, and speaking when I do, I feel 
that in any attempt at an original, constitutional argu- 
ment, I should not be, and ought not to be, listened to 
patiently. The ablest and the best of men have gone 
over the whole ground long ago. I shall attempt but 
little more than a brief notice of what some of them 
have said. In relation to Mr. Jefferson's views, I read 
from ]Mr. Polk's veto message : 

"President .Jefferson, in his message to Congress in 1806, rec- 
ommended an amendment of tlie Constitution, with a view to ap- 
ply an anticipated surplus in the treasury, 'to the great purposes 


of the public eJucation, roads, rivers, canals, and such other ob- 
jects of public improvements as it. may be thought proper to add 
to the constitutional enumeration of the Federal powers.' And 
he adds: 'I suppose an amendment to the Constitution, by con- 
sent of the states, necessary, because the objects now recom- 
mended, are not, among those enumerated in the Constitution, and 
to which it permits the public moneys to be applied.' In 1825, he 
repeated, in his published letters, tlie opinion that no such powei: 
has been conferred upon Congress."' 

I introduce this, not to controvert, just now, tlie con- 
stitutional opinion, but to show, that on the question of 
escpcdicncy, Mr. Jefferson's opinion was against the pres- 
ent President — that this opinion of Mr. Jefferson, in one 
branch at least, is, in the hands of Mr. Polk, like Mc- 
Fingal's gun : 

"Bears wide and kicks the owner over." 

But, to the constitutional question. In 182G, Chan- 
cellor Kent first publislied his Commentaries on Amer- 
ican Law. He devoted a portion of one of the lectures 
to the question of the authority of Congress to appro- 
priate public moneys for internal improvements. He 
mentions that the question had never been brought un- 
der judicial consideration, and proceeds to give a brief 
summary of the discussions it had undergone between 
the legislative and the executive branches of the gov- 
ernment. He shows that the legislative branch had 
usually been /o?% and the executive against, the power, 
till the period of Mr. J. Q. Adams's administration ; at 
■which point he considers the executive influence as 
■withdrawn from opposition, and added to the support of 
the power. In IS-i-I, the chancellor published a new 
edition of his Commentaries, in which he adds some 
notes of what had transpired on the question since 182G. 


I have not time to read the original text, or the notes, 
but the whole may be found on page 267, and the two 
or three follcwing pages of the first volume of the edi- 
tion of 18-i4. As what Chancellor Kent seems to con- 
sider the sum of the whole, I read from one of the 

" ]Mr. Justice Storj', in his Commentaries on tlie Constitution 
of the United States, vol. 2, page 429-4i0, and again, page 519- 
638, has stated at large the arguments for and against the prop- 
osition that Congress have a constitutional authority to lay taxes, 
and to apply the power to regulate commerce, as a means directly 
to encourage and protect domestic manufactures; and, -without 
giving any opinion of his own on the contested doctrine, he has 
left the reader to draw his own conclusions. I should think, 
however, from the arguments as stated, that every mind which 
has taken uo part in the discussions, and felt no prejudice or 
territorial bias on either side of the question, would deem the 
arguments in favor of the Congressional power vastly superior." 

It will be seen, that in this extract, the power to 
make improvements is not directly mentioned; but by 
examining the context, both of Kent and of Story, it 
will appear that the power mentioned in the extract and 
the power to make improvements, are regarded as ident- 
ical. It is not to be denied that many great and good 
men have been against the power; but it is insisted that 
quite as many, as great and as good, have been for it ; 
and it is shown that, on a full survey of the whole, 
Chancellor Kent was of opinion that the arguments of 
the latter were vasthj superior. This is but the opinion 
of a man ; but who was that man ? He was one of the 
ablest and most learned lawyers of his age, or of any 
age. It is no disparagement to Mr. Polk, nor, indeed, to 
any one who devotes much time to politics, to be placed 
far behind Chancellor Kent as a lawyer. His attitude 


was most favorable to correct conclusions. He wrote 
coolly, and in retirement. lie was struggling to rear 
a durable monument of fame ; and he well know that 
truth and thoroughly sound reasoning were the only sure 
foundations. Can the party opinion of a party Presi- 
dent, on a law question, as this purely is, be at all com- 
pared or set in opposition to that of such a man, in such 
an attitude, as Chancellor Kent? 

This constitutional question will probably never be 
better settled than it is, until it shall pass under judicial 
consideration ; but I do think no man who is clear on 
this question of expediency need feel his conscience 
much pricked upon this. 

Mr. Chairman, the President seems to think that 
enough may be done in the way of improvements, by 
means of tonnage duties, under state authority, with the 
consent of the General Government. Now, I suppose 
this manner of tonnage duties is well enough in its own 
sphere. I suppose it may be efficient, and perhaps suf- 
ficient, to make slight improvements and repairs in har- 
bors already in use, and not much out of repair. Eut 
if I have any correct general idea of it, it must be wholly 
inefficient for -any generally beneficent purposes of im- 
provement. I know very little, or rather nothing at all, 
of the practical matter of levying and collecting tonnage 
duties ; but I suppose one of its principles must be, to 
lay a duty, for the improvement of any particular harbor, 
iipoii the tumxrge comhuj ntto that hai'bur. To do other- 
wise — to collect money in one harbor to be expended on 
improvements in another — would be an extremely aggra- 
vated form of that inequality which the President so 
much deprecates. If I be right in this, how could we 
make any entirely new improvements by means of ton- 
nage duties ? IIow make a road, a canal, or clear a 


greatly obstructed river ? The idea that we could, in- 
volves the same absurdity of the Irish bull about the 
new boots : " I shall niver get 'em on," says Patrick, 
"till I wear 'em a day or two, and stretch 'em a little." 
We shall never make a canal by tonnage duties, until it 
shall already have been made a while, so the tonnage can 
get into it. 

After all, the President concludes that possibly there 
may be some great objects of improvements which can 
not be effected by tonnage duties, and which, therefore, 
may be expedient for the General Government to take 
in hand. Accordingly, he suggests, in case any such 
be discovered, the propriety of amending the Constitu- 
tion. Amend it for what? If, like Mr. Jefferson, the 
President thought improvements expedient^ but not con- 
stitutional, it would be natural enough for him to rec- 
ommend such an amendment; but hear what he says in 
this very message : 

"In view of these portentous conseqiienceg, T cannot but think 
that this course of legislation should be arrested, even were there 
nothing to forbid it in the fundamental laws of our Union," 

For what, then, would he have the Constitution 
amended ? With him it is a proposition to remove one 
impediment, merely to be met by others, which, in his 
opinion, can not be removed — to enable Congress to 
do what, in his opinion, they ought not to do if they 

[Here Mr. Meade, of Virginia, inquired if Mr, L. 
understood the President to be opposed, on grounds of 
expediency, to any and every improvement?] 

To which Mr. Lincoln answered : In the very part 
of his message of which I am now speaking, I under- 
stand him as giving some vague expressions in favor of 


some possible objects of improvements ; but, in doing so, 
I understand him to be directly in the teeth of his own 
arguments in other parts of it. Neither the President, 
nor any one, can possibly specily an improvement which 
shall not be clearly liable to one or another of the 
objections he has urged on the score of expediency. I 
have shown, and might show again, that no work — no 
object — can be so general as to dispense its benefits 
with precise equality; and this inequality is chief among 
the "portentous consequences" for which he declares 
that improvements should be arrested. No, sir; when 
the President intimates that something in the way of 
improvements may properly be done by the General 
Government, he is shrinking from the conclusions to 
which his own arguments would force him. He feels 
that the improvements of this broad and goodly land are 
a mighty interest ; and he is unwilling to confess to the 
people, or perhaps to himself, that he has built an argu- 
ment, which, when pressed to its conclusion, entirely 
annihilates this interest. 

I have already said that no one who is satisfied of the 
expediency of making improvements, need be much 
uneasy in his conscience about its constitutionality. I 
wish now to submit a few remarks on the general prop- 
osition of amending the Constitution. As a general 
rule, I think we would do much better to let it alone. 
No slight occasion should tempt us to touch it. Bet- 
ter not take the first step, which may lead to a habit 
of altering it. Better rather habituate ourselves to 
think of it as unalterable. It can scarcely be made 
better than it is. New provisions would introduce new 
difficulties, and thus create and increase appetite for still 
further change. No, sir ; let it stand as it is. New 
hands have never touched it. The men who made it 


have done their work, and have passed away. Who 
shall improve on what thr)/ did ? 

Mr. Chairman, for the purpose of reviewing- this mes- 
sage in the least possible time, as well as for the sake 
of distinctness, I had analyzed its arguments as well as 
I could, and reduced them to the propositions I have 
stated. I have now examined them in detail. I wish 
to detain the committee only a little while longer with 
some general remarks upon the subject of improve- 

That the subject is a difScult one, can not be denied. 
Still, it is no more difficult in Congress than in the State 
Legislatures, in the counties, or in the smallest munici- 
pal districts which anywhere exist. All can recur to 
instances of this difficulty in the case of county roads, 
bridges, and the like. One man is offended because a 
road passes over his land ; and another is offended be- 
cause it does nut pass over his ; one is dissatisfied because 
the bridge, for which he is taxed, crosses the river on a 
different road from that which leads from his house to 
town ; another can not bear that the county should get 
in debt for these same roads and bridges ; while not a 
few struggle hard to have roads located over their lands, 
and then stoutly refuse to let them be opened, until they 
are first paid the damages. Even between. the different 
wards and streets of towns and cities, we find this same 
wrangling and difficulty. Now, these are no other than 
the very difficulties against which, and out of which, the 
President constructs his objections of " inequality," 
"speculation," and "crushing the treasury." There is 
but a single alternative about them — they are sufficient, 
or they are not. If sufficient, they are sufficient out of 
Congress as well as in it, and there is the end. We must 
reject them as insufficient, or lie down and do nothing 


by any authority. Then, difficulty though there be, let 
us meet and overcome it. 

" Attempt the end, and never stand to doubt ; 
Kothiug so hard, but search will find it out.' 

Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and 
then -we shall find the way. The tendency to undue 
expansion is unquestionably the chief difficulty. How 
to do something and still not to do too much, is the desid- 
eratum. Let each contribute his mite in the way of sug- 
gestion. The late Silas Wright, in a letter to the Chicago 
Convention, contributed his, which was worth some- 
thing ; and I now contribute mine, which may be worth 
nothing. At all events, it will mislead nobody, and 
therefore will do no harm. I would not borrow money. 
I am against an overwhelming, crushing system. Supjiiose 
that at each session. Congress shall determine Jiow much 
money can, for that year, be spared for improvements; 
then apportion that sum to the most important objects. 
So far all is easy ; but how shall we determine which are 
the most important? On this question comes the col- 
lision of interests. 7 shall be slow to acknowldge that 
your harbor or your river is more important than mine, 
and vice verm. To clear this difficulty, let us have that 
same statistical information which the gentleman from 
Ohio [Mr. Vinton] suggested at the beginning of this 
session. In that information we shall have a stern, un- 
bending basis of facts — a basis in nowise subject to whim, 
caprice, or local interest. The pre-limited amount of 
means will save us from doing too much, and the statis- 
tics will save us from doing what we do, in icrong places. 
Adopt and adhere to this course, and, it seems to me, the 
difficulty is cleared. 

One of the gentlemen from South Carolina, [Mr. 


Rhett,] very much deprecates these statistics. He par- 
ticularly objects, as I understand him, to counting all 
the pigs and chickens in the land. I do not perceive 
much force in the objection. It is true, that if every- 
thing be enumerated, a portion of such statistics may 
not be very useful to this object. Such products of the 
country as are to be consumed where they are prod iiceif, 
need no roads and rivers, no means of transportation, 
and have no very proper connection with this subject. 
The siifpltts, that which is produced in one place to be 
consumed in another ; the capacity of each locality for 
producing a greater surplus ; the natural means of trans- 
portation, and their susceptibility of improvement; the 
hinderances, delays, and losses of life and property dur- 
ing transportation, and the causes of each, would be 
among the most valuable statistics in this connection. 
From these it would readily appear where a given 
amount of expenditure would do the most good. These 
statistics might be equally accessible, as they would be 
equally useful, to both the nation and the states. In 
this way, and by these means, let the nation take hold 
of the larger works, and the states the smaller ones ; 
and thus, working in a meeting direction, discreetly, but 
steadily and firmly, what is made unequal in one place 
may be equalized in another, extravagance avoided, and 
the whole country put on that career of prosperity which 
shall correspond with its extent of territory, its natural 
resources, and the intelligence and enterprise of its 



JUNE 2G, 1857. 

Fellow-Citizens : I am here to-night, partly by the 
invitation of some of you, and partly by my own inclina- 
tion. Two weeks ago. Judge Douglas spoke here on the 
several subjects of Kansas, the Dred Scott decision, and 
Utah. I listened to the speech at the time, and have 
read the report of it since. It was intended to contro- 
vert opinions which I think just, and to assail (politi- 
cally, not personally) those men who, in common with 
me, entertain those opinions. For this reason I wished 
then, and still wish, to make some answer to it, which I 
now take the opportunity of doing. 

I begin with Utah. If it prove to be true, as is prob- 
able, that the people of Utah are in open rebellion to 
the United States, then Judge Douglas is in favor of 
repealing their territorial organization, and attaching 
them to the adjoining states for judicial purposes. I 
say, too, if they are in rebellion, they ought to be some- 
how coerced to obedience ; and I am not now prepared 
to admit or deny that the judge's mode of coercing them 
is not as good as any. The llepublicans can fall in with 


it, -witlioufc taking back anything they have ever said. 
To be sure, it would be a considerable backing down by 
Judge Douglas from his much-vaunted doctrine of self- 
government for the territories ; but this is only addi- 
tional proof of what was very plain from the beginning, 
that that doctrine was a mere deceitful pretense for the 
benefit of slavery. Those who could not see that much 
in the Nebraska act it,self, which forced Governors, apd 
Secretaries, and Judges, on the people of the territories, 
without their choice or consent, could not be made to 
see, though one should rise from the dead. 

But in all this, it is very plain the judge evades the 
only question the Republicans have ever pressed upon 
the Democracy in regard to Utah. That question the 
judge well knew to be this: "If the people of Utah shall 
peacefully form a State Constitution tolerating polyg- 
amy, will the Democracy admit them into the Union V 
There is nothing in the United States Constitution or 
law against polygamy; and why is it not a part of the 
judge's ^'sacred right of self-government" for the people 
to have it, or rather to keep it, if they choose? These 
questions, so far as I know, the judge never ansAvers. It 
might involve the Democracy to answer them either way, 
and they go unanswered. 

As to Kansas. The substance of the judge's speech 
on Kansas is an effort to put the Free State men in the 
wrong for not voting at the election of delegates to the 
Constitutional Convention. He says; 

'•Thei-e is every reason to hope and believe that the law will 
be fairly interpreted and impartiall}' executed, so as to insure to 
every bona fide inhabitant the free and quiet exercise of the elect- 
ive franchise.'' 

It appears extraordinary that Judge Douglas should 


make such a statement. He knows that, by the law, 
no one can vote who has not been registered; and he 
knows that the Free State men place their refusal to 
vote on the ground that but few of them have been reg- 
istered. It is possible this is not true, but Judge Doug- 
las knows it is asserted to be true in letters, newspapers, 
and public speeches, and borne by every mail, and blown 
by every bieeze to the eyes and ears of the world. He 
knows it is boldly declared that the people of many 
whole counties, and many-^'hole neighborhoods in oth- 
ers, are left unregistered ; yet, he does not venture to 
contradict the declaration, or to point out how they can 
vote without being registered ; but he just slips along, 
not seeming to know there is any such question of fact, 
and complacently declares : 

" There is every reason to hope Jind believe that the law will 
be fairly inlcrpi-eted and impartiall3' executed, so as to insure to 
every boyia fide inhabitant the fi-ee and quiet exercise of the elect- 
ive franchise." 

I readily agree that if all had a chance to vote, they 
ought to have voted. If, on the contrary, as they allege, 
and Judge Douglas ventures not to particularly contra- 
dict, few only of the Free State men had a chance to 
vote, they were perfectly right in staying from the polls 
in a body. 

By the viay, since the judge spoke, the Kansas election 
has come off. The judge expressed his confidence that 
all the Democrats in Kansas would do their duty — in- 
cluding '^Free State Democrats" of course. The returns 
received here, as yet, are very incomplete ; but so far as 
they go, they indicate that only about one-sixth of the 
registered voters, have really voted ; and this, too, when 
not more, perhaps, than one-half of the rightful voters 


have been registered, thus showing the thing to have 
been altogether the most exquisite farce ever enacted. I 
am watching, with considerable interest, to ascertain what 
figure "the Free State Democrats" cut in the concern. 
Of" course they voted — all Democrats do their duty — and 
of course they did not vote for Slave State candidates. 
We soon shall know how many delegates they elected, 
how many candidates they had pledged to a free state, 
and how many votes were cast for them. 

Allow me to barely whisper my suspicion that there 
were no such things in Kansas as "Free State Demo- 
crats " — that they were altogether mythical, good only 
to figure in newspapers and speeches in the free states. 
If there should prove to be one real living Free State 
Democrat in Kansas, I suggest that it might be well to 
catch him, and stuff and preserve his skin as an interest- 
ing specimen of that soon to be extinct variety of the 
genus Democrat. 

And now as to the Dred Scott decision. That decision 
declares two propositions — first, that a negro can not sue 
in the United States Courts; and secondly, that Congress 
can not prohibit slavery in the territories. It was made 
by a divided court — dividing difi'erently on the different 
points. Judge Douglas does not discuss the merits of 
the decision ; and, in that respect, I shall follow his ex- 
ample, believing I could no more improve on McLean 
and Curtis, than he could on Taney. 

He denounces all who question the correctness of that 
decision, as offering violent resistance to it. But who 
resists it? Who has, in spite of the decision, declared 
Dred Scott free, and resisted the authority of his master 
over him ? 

Judicial decisions have two uses — first, to absolutely 
determine the case decided; and secondly, to indicate to 


the public how other similar cases will be decided when 
they arise. For the hitter use, they are called "prece- 
dents" and "authorities." 

We believe as much as Judge Douglas (perhaps more) 
in obedience to, and respect for, the judicial department 
of governor. We think its decisions on Constitutional 
questions, when fully settled, should control, not only 
the particular cases decided, but the general policy of 
the country, subject to be disturbed only by amendments 
of the Constitution as provided in that instrument itself. 
More than this would be revolution. But we think the 
Died Scott decision is erroneous. We know the court 
that made it has often overruled its own decisions, and 
we shall do what we can to have it overrule this. We 
offer no resistance to it. 

Judicial decisions are of greater or less authority as 
precedents, according to circumstances. That this should 
be so, accords both with common sense, and the custom- 
ary understanding of the legal profession. 

If this important decision hud been made by the unan- 
imous concurrence of the judges, and without any appa- 
rent partisan bias, and in accordance with legal public 
expectation, and with the steady practice of the depart- 
ments throughout our history, and had been, in no part, 
based on assumed historical facts which are not really 
true ; or, if wanting in some of these, it had been before 
the court more than once, and had there been affirmed 
and reaffirmed through a course of years, it then might 
be, perhaps would be, factious, nay, even revolutionary, 
not to acquiesce in it as a precedent. 

But when, as it is true, we find it wanting in all these 
claims to the public confidence, it is not resistance, it is 
not factious, it is not even disrespectful, to treat it as 
not having yet quite established a settled doctrine for 


the country. But Judge Douglas considers this view 
awful. Hear him : 

" The courts are the tribunals prescribed by the Constitution 
and created by the authority of the people to determine, expound, 
and enforce the law. Hence, ■whoever resists the final decision 
of the highest judicial tribunal, aims a deadly blow to our whole 
Republican system of government — a blow, which, if successful, 
would place all our rights and liberties at the mercy of passion, 
anarchy, and violence. I repeat, therefore, that if resistance to 
the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, in a 
matter like the points decided in the Dred Scott case, clearly 
within their jurisdiction as defined by the Constitution, shall be 
forced upon the country as a political issue, it will become a dis- 
tinct and naked issue between the friends and enemies of the 
Constitution — the friends and the enemies of the supremacy of 
the laws."' 

Why, this same Supreme Court once decided a na- 
tional bank to be constitutional ; but General Jackson, as 
President of the United States, disregarded the decision, 
and vetoed a bill for a re-charter, partly on constitu- 
tional ground, declaring that each public functionary 
must support the Constitution, "as he understands it." 
But hear the general's own words. Here they are, 
taken from his veto message : 

"It is maintained by the advocates of the bank, that its con- 
stitutionality, in all its features, ought to be considered as settled 
by precedent, and by the decision of the Supreme Court. To this 
conclusion I can not assent. Mere precedent is a dangerous 
source of authority, and should not be regarded as deciding ques- 
tions of constitutional power, except where the acquiescence of the 
people and the States can be considered as well settled. So far 
from this being the case on this subject, an argument against the 
bank might be based on precedent. One Congress in 1791, de- 
cided in favor of a bank; another in 1811, decided against it. 
One Congress in 1815 decided against a bank; another, in 1816, 


decided in its favor. Prior to the present Congress, therefore, the 
precedents drawn from that source were equal. If we resort to 
the states, the expressions of legi.<<lative, judicial, and executive 
opinions against the bank have been probably to those in its 
favor as four to one. There is nothing in precedent, therefore, 
which, if its authority were admitted, ought to weigh in favor of 
the act before me." 

I drop the quotation merely to remark, that all there 
ever was, in the way of precedent up to the Dred Scott 
decision, on the points therein decided, had been against 
that decision. But hear Greneral Jackson further : 

"If the opinion of the Supreme Court covered the whole ground 
of this act, it ought not to control the co-ordinate authorities of 
this Government. The Congress, the Executive, and the Court, 
must each for itself be guided by its own opinion of the Consti- 
tution. Each public oflBcer, who takes an oath to support the 
Constitution, swears that he will support it as he understands it, 
and not as it is understood by others." 

Again and again have I heard Judge Douglas denounce 
that bank decision, and applaud General Jackson for dis- 
regarding it. It would be interesting for him to look over 
his recent speech, and see how exactly his fierce philip- 
ics against us, for resisting Supreme Court decisions, fall 
upon his own head. It will call to mind a long and 
fierce political war in this country, upon an issue which, 
in his own language, and, of course, in his own change- 
less estimation, was "a distinct issue between the friends 
and the eneiuies of the Constitution," and in which war 
he fought in the ranks of the enemies of the Constitu- 

I have said, in substance, that the Dred Scott deci- 
sion was, in part, based on assumed historical facts 
which were not really true, and I ought not to leave the 


subject without giving some reasons for saying this; I 
therefore give an instance or two, which I think fully 
sustain me. Chief Justice Taney, in delivering the 
opinion of the majority of the Court, insists at great 
length that negroes were no part of the people who 
made, or for whom was made, the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, or the Constitution of the United States. 

On the contrary, Judge Curtis, in his dissenting opin- 
ion, shows that in five of the then thirteen states, to wit: 
New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, 
and North Carolina, free negroes were voters, and, in 
proportion to their numbers, had the same part in mak- 
ing the Constitution that the white people had. He 
shows this with so much particularity as to leave no 
doubt of its truth ; and as a sort of conclusion on that 
point, holds the following language : 

"The Coustitution was ordained and established by the people 
of the United States, through the action, in each state, of those 
persons who were qualified by its laws to act thereon in behalf 
of themselves and all other citizens of the state. In some of 
the states, as we have seen, colored persons were among those 
qualified by law to act on the subject. These colored persons 
were not only included in the body of ' the people of the United 
States,' by whom the Constitution was ordained and established, 
but in at least five of the states, they had the power to act, and, 
doubtless, did act, by their suffrages, upon the question of its 

Again, Chief Justice Taney says : 

"It is difficult, at this day, to realize the state of public opin- 
ion in relation to that unfortunate race, which prevailed in the 
civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of 
the Declaration of Independence, and when the Constitution of 
the United States was framed and adopted." 


And again, after quoting from the Declaration, he says: 

"The general words above quoted would seem to include the 
whole human familj', and if they were used in a similar instru- 
ment at this day, would be so understood." 

In these the Chief Justice does not directly assert, 
but plainly assumes, as a fact, that the public estimate 
of the black man is more favorable now than it was in 
the days of the Revolution. This assumption is a mis- 
take. In some trifling particulars, the condition of that 
race has been ameliorated ; but, as a whole, in this coun- 
try, the change between then and now is decidedly the 
other way ; and their ultimate destiny has never ap- 
peared so hopeless as in the last three or four years. 
In two of the five states — New Jersey and North Caro- 
lina — that then gave the free negro the right of voting, 
the right has since been taken away ; and in a third — • 
New York — it has been greatly abridged; while it has 
not been extended, so far as I know, to a single addi- 
tional state, though the number of the states has more 
than doubled. In those days, as I understand, masters 
could, at their own pleasure, emancipate their slaves ; 
but since then, such legal restraints have been made 
upon emancipation, as to amount almost to prohibition. 
In those days, Legislatures held the unquestioned power 
to abolish slavery in their respective states; but now it 
is becoming quite fashionable for State Constitutions to 
withhold that power from the Legislatures. In those 
days, by common consent, the spread of the black man's 
bondage to the new countries was prohibited, but now, 
Congress decides that it will not continue the prohibi- 
tion ; and the Supreme Court decides that it could not 
if it would. In those days, our Declaration of Inde- 
pendence was held sacred by all, and thought to include 


all ; but now, to aid in making the bondage of the negro 
iiniversal and eternal, it is assailed, and sneered at, and 
construed, and hawked at, and torn, till, if its framers 
could rise from their graves, they could not at all rec- 
ognize it. All the powers of earth seem rapidly com- 
bining against him. Mammon is after him, ambition 
follows, philosophy follows, and the theology of the day 
is fast joining the cry. They have him in his prison 
house ; they have searched his person, and left no pry- 
ing instrument with him. One after another they have 
closed the heavy iron doors upon him ; and now they 
have him, as it were, bolted in with a lock of a hundred 
keys, which can never be unlocked without the concur- 
rence of every key; the keys in the hands of a hundred 
different men, and they scattered to a hundred different 
and distant places ; and they stand musing as to what 
invention, in all the dominions of mind and matter, can 
be produced to make the impossibility of his escape more 
complete than it is. 

It is grossly incorrect to say or assume that the pub- 
lic estimate of the negro is more favorable now than it 
was at the origin of the Government. 

Three years and a half ago, Judge Douglas brought 
forward his famous Nebraska bill. The country was at 
once in a blaze. He scorned all opposition, and carried 
it through Congress. Since then he has seen himself 
superseded in a Presidential nomination, by one indors- 
ing the general doctrine of his measure, but at the same 
time standing clear of the odium of its untimely agita- 
tion, and its gross breach of national faith; and he has 
seen that successful rival constitutionally elected, not by 
strength of friends, but by the division of adversaries, 
being in a popular minority of nearly four hundred 
thousand votes. He has seen his chief aids in his own 


state, Shields and Richardson, politically speaking, suc- 
cessively tried, convicted, and executed, for an offense 
not their own, but his. And now he sees his own case, 
standing next on the docket for trial. 

There is a natural disgust in the minds of nearly all 
white people, to the idea of an indiscriminate amalgama- 
tion of the white and black races; and Judge Douglas 
evidently is basing his chief hope upon the chances of 
his being able to appropriate the benefit of this disgust 
to himself. If he can, by much drumming and repeat- 
ing, fasten the odium of that idea upon his adversaries, 
he thinks he can struggle through the storm. lie there- 
fore clings to this hope, as a drowning man to the last 
plank. He makes an occasion for lugging it in from the 
opposition to the Dred Scott decision. He finds the 
Republicans insisting that the Declaration of Independ- 
ence includes all men, black as well as white, and 
forthwith he boldly denies that it includes negroes at 
all, and proceeds to argue gravely that all who contend 
it does, do so only because they want to vote, and eat, 
and sleep, and marry with negroes ! He will have it 
that they can not be consistent else. Now I protest 
against the counterfeit logic which concludes that, be- 
cause I do not want a black woman for a slave I must 
necessarily want her for a wife. I need not have her for 
either. I can just leave her alone. In some respects, 
she certainly is not my equal ; but in her natural right 
to eat the bread she earns with her own hands without 
asking leave of any one else, she is my equal, and the 
equal of all others. 

Chief Justice Taney, in his opinion in the Dred Scott 
case, admits that the language of the Declaration is broad 
enough to include the whole human family, but he and 
Judge Douglas argue that the authors of that instrument 


did not intend to include negroes, by the fact that they 
did not at once actually place them on an equality with 
the whites. Now this grave argument comes to just 
nothing at all, by the other fact, that they did not at 
once, or ever afterward, actually place all white people 
on an equality with one another. And this is the staple 
argument of both the Chief Justice and the Senator, for 
doing this obvious violence to the plain, unmistakable 
language of the Declaration. 

I think the authors of that notable instrument intend- 
ed to include all men, but they did not intend to declare 
all men equal in all respects. They did not mean to say 
all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral develop- 
ments, or social capacity. They defined with tolerable 
distinctness, in what respects they did consider all men 
created equal — equal with "certain inalienable rights, 
among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happi- 
ness." This they said, and this they meant. They did 
not mean to assert the obvious untruth, that all were 
then actually enjoying that equality, nor yet that they 
were about to confer it immediately upon them. In fact, 
they had no power to confer such a boon. They meant 
simply to declare the riglit^ so that the evforcement of it 
might follow as fast as circumstances should permit. 

They meant to set up a standard maxim for free socie- 
ty, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all ; 
constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even 
though never perfectly attained, constantly approxima- 
ted, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its 
influence and augmenting the happiness and value of life 
to all people of all colors everywhere. The assertion 
that " all men are created equal," was of no practical 
use in effecting our separation from Great Britain; and it 
was placed in the Declaration, not for that, but for future 


use. Its authors meant it to be as, thank God, it is now 
proving itself, a stumbling-block to all those who, in 
after times, might seek to turn a free people back into 
the hateful paths of despotism. They knew the prone- 
ness of prosperity to breed tyrants, and they meant when 
such should reappear in this fair land and commence 
their vocation, they should find left for them at least one 
hard nut to crack. 

I have now briefly expressed my view of the meanwg 
and ohject of that part of the Declaration of Independ- 
ence which declares that "all men are created equal." 

JSTow let us hear Judge Douglas's view of the same 
subject, as I find it in the printed report of his late 
speech. Here it is : 

"No man can vindicate tlie character, motives, and conduct of 
the signers of the Declaration of Independence, except upon the 
hj'pothesis that they referred to the white race alone, and not to 
the African, when they declared all men to have been created 
equal — that they were speaking of British subjects on this conti- 
nent being equal to British subjects born and residing in Great 
Biitain — that they were entitled to the same inalienable rights, 
and among them were enumerated life, liberty, and the pursuit of 
happiness. The Declaration was adopted for the purpose of justi- 
fying the colonists in the eyes of the civilized world in withdraw- 
ing their allegiance from the British crown and dissolving their 
connection with tlie mother country." 

My good friends, read that carefully over some leisure 
hour, and ponder well upon it — see what a mere wreck 
— mangled ruin, it makes of our once glorious Declara- 

" They were speaking of British subjects on this con- 
tinent being equal to British subjects born and residing 
in Great Britain !" Why, according to this, not only 
negroes, but white people outside of Great Britain and 


America were not spoken of in that instrument. The 
English, Irish, and Scotch, along with white Americans, 
were included to be sure, but the French, Germans, and 
other white people of the world are all gone to pot along 
with the judge's inferior races. 

I had thought the Declaration promised something 
better than the condition of British subjects ; but no, it 
only meant that we should be equal to them in their own 
oppressed and unequal condition. According to that, it 
gave no promise that, having kicked off the king and 
lords of Great Britain, we should not at once be saddled 
with a king and lords of our own. 

I had thought the Declaration contemplated the pro- 
gressive improvement in the condition of all men every- 
where ; but no, it merely "was adopted for the purpose 
of justifying the colonists in the eyes of the civilized 
world in withdrawing their allegiance from the British 
crown, and dissolving their connection with the mother 
country." Why, that object having been effected some 
eighty years ago, the Declaration is of no practical use 
now — mere rubbish — old wadding left to rot on the bat- 
tle-field after the victory is won. 

I understand you are preparing to celebrate the 
" Fourth " to-morrow week. What for? The doings of 
that day had no reference to the present ; and quite half 
of you are not even descendants of those who were re- 
ferred to at that day. But I suppose you will celebrate; 
and will even go so far as to read the Declaration. Sup- 
pose, after you read it once in the old fashioned way, you 
read it once more with Judge Douglas's version. It will 
then run thus : "We hold these truths to be self-evident 
that all British subjects who were on this continent 
eighty-one years ago, were created equal to all British. 
subjects born and then residing in Great Britain." 


And now I appeal to all — to Democrats as well as 
others — are you really willing that the Declaration shall 
thus be frittered away ? — thus left no more at most than 
an interesting memorial of the dead past? — thus shorn 
of its vitality and practical value, and left without the 
germ or even the siujgestion of the individual rights of 
man in it ? 

But Judge Douglas is especially horrified at the 
thought of the mixing blood by the white and black 
races. Agreed for once — a thousand times agreed. 
There are white men enough to marry all the white 
women, and black men enough to marry all the black 
women ; and so let them be married. On this point, we 
fully agree with the judge ; and when he shall show that 
his policy is better adapted to prevent amalgamation 
than ours, we shall drop ours and adopt his. Let us see. 
In 1850, there were in the United States, 405,751 mulat- 
toes. Very few of these are the offspring of whites and 
free blacks ; nearly all have sprung from black slaves 
and white masters. A separation of the races is the 
only perfect preventive of amalgamation, but as an imme- 
diate separation is impossible, the next best thing is to 
Icecp them apart icJicre they are not already together. If 
white and black people never get together in Kansas, 
they will never mix blood in Kansas. That is at least 
one self-evident truth. A few free colored persons may 
get into the free states, in any event; but their number 
is too insignificant to amount to much in the way of 
mixing blood. In 1850, there were in the free states, 
56,649 mulattoes ; but for the most part they were not 
born there — they came from the slave states, ready made 
up. In the same year the slave states had 348,874 mu- 
lattoes, all of home production. The proportion of free 
mulattoes to free blacks — the only colored classes in the 


free states — is much greater in the slave tlian in the free 
states. It is worthy of note, too, that among the free 
states those which make the colored man the nearest 
equal to the white, have proportionably the fewest mu- 
lattoes, the least of amalgamation. In New Hampshire, 
the state which goes farthest toward equality between 
the races, there are just 184 muiattoes, while there are 
in Virginia — how many do you think ? — 79,775, being 
23,126 more than in all the free states together. 

These statistics show that slavery is the greatest source 
of amalgamation, and next to it, not the elevation, but 
the degradation of free blacks. Yet Judge Douglas 
dreads the slightest restraints on the spread of slavery, 
and the slightest human recognition of the negro, as 
tending horribly to amalgamation. 

The very Dred Scott case affords a strong test as to 
which party most favors amalgamation, the Republicans 
or the dear Union-saving Democracy? Dred Scott, his 
wife, and two daughters were all involved in the suit. We 
desired the court to have held that they were citizens so 
far at least as to entitle them to a hearing as to whether 
they were free or not ; and then, also, that they were in 
fact and in law really free. Could we have had our 
way, the chances of these black girls ever mixing their 
blood with that of white people, would have been di- 
minished at least to the extent that it could not have 
been without their consent. But Judge Douglas is 
delighted to have them decided to be slaves, and not 
human enough to have a hearing, even if they were 
free, and thus left subject to the forced concubinage of 
their masters, and liable to become the mothers of mu- 
iattoes in spite of themselves — the very state of case that 
produces nine-tenths of all the muiattoes — all the mix- 
ing of blood in the nation. 


Of course, T state this case as an illustration only, not 
meaning' to say or intimate that the master of Dred Scott 
and his family, or any more than a per eentage of mas- 
ters generally, are inclined to exercise this particular 
power which they hold over their female slaves. 

I have said that the separation of the races is the only 
perfect preventive of amalgamation. I have no right td 
say all the members of the Republican party are in favor 
of this, nor to say that as a party they are in favor of 
it. There is nothing in their platform directly on the 
subject. But I can say, a very large proportion of its 
members are for it, and that the chief plank in their 
platforni — opposition to the spread of slavery — is most 
favorable to that separation. 

Such separation, if ever effected at all, must be effected 
by colonization ; and no political party, as such, is now 
doing anything directly for colonization. Party opera- 
tions, at present, only favor or retard colonization inci- 
dentally. The enterprise is a difEcult one ; but " where 
there is a will there is a way;" and what colonization 
needs most is a hearty will. Will springs from the two 
elements of moral sense and self-interest. Let us be 
brought to believe it is morally right, and, at the same, 
time, favorable to, or, at least, not against, our interest, 
to transfer the African to his native clime, and we shall 
find a way to do it, however great the task may be. 
The children of Israel, to such numbers as to include 
four hundred thousand fighting men, went out of Egyp- 
tian bondage in a body. 

How differently the respective courses of the Demo- 
cratic and Eepublicau parties incidentally bear on the 
question of forming a will — a public sentiment — for col- 
onization, is easy to see. The Republicans inculcate, 
with whatever of ability they can, that the negro is a 


man ; that his bondage is cruelly wrong, and that the 
field of his oppression ought not to be enlarged. The 
Democrats deny his manhood ; deny, or dwarf to insig- 
nificance, the wrong of his bondage ; so far as possible, 
crush all sympathy for him, and cultivate and excite 
hatred and disgust against him ; compliment themselves 
as Union -savers for doing so ; and call the indefinite 
outspreading of his bondage " a sacred right of self- 

The plainest print can not be read through a gold 
eagle ; and it will be ever hard to find many men who 
will send a slave to Liberia, and pay his passage, while 
they can send him to a new country — Kansas, for in- 
stance — and sell him for fifteen hundred dollars, and 
the rise. 



Mr. President and Fellow-Citizens of New York : 
The facts with which I shall deal this evening are 
mainly old and familiar ; nor is there anything new in 
the general use I shall make of them. If there shall 
be any novelty, it will be in the mode of presenting 
the facts, and the references and observations following 
that presentation. 

In his speech last autumn, at Columbus, Ohio, as 
reported in the New York Times, Senator Douglas said : 

" Our fathers, -when they fraiueJ the government under which 
■we live, understood this question just as well, and even better than 
we do now." 

I fully indorse this, and I adopt it as a text for this 
discourse. I so adopt it because it furnishes a precise 
and an agreed starting-point for a discussion between 
Republicans and that wing of the democracy headed by 
Senator Douglas. It simply leaves the inquii'y : "What 
■was the understanding those fathers had of the question 
mentioned ?" 

What is the frame of government under which we 

The answer must be : " The Constitution of the United 


States." That Constitution consists of the original, 
framed in 1787, (and under which the present govern- 
ment first went into operation,) and twelve subsequently 
framed amendments, the first ten of which were framed 
in 1789. 

Who were our fathers that framed the Constitution ? 
I suppose the " thirty-nine " who signed the original 
instrument may be fairly called our fathers who framed 
that part of our present government. It is almost 
exactly true to say they framed it, and it is altogether 
true to say they fairly represented the opinion and 
sentiment of the whole nation at that time. Their 
names, being familiar to nearly all, and accessible to 
quite all, need not now be repeated. 

I take these " thirty-nine," for the present, as being 
" our fathers who framed the government under which 
we live." 

What is the question which, according to the text, 
those fathers understood just as well and even better 
than we do now ? 

It is this : Does the proper division of local from 
Federal authority, or anything in the Constitution, forbid 
our Federal Government to control as to slavery in our 
Federal territories ? 

Upon this Douglas holds the affirmative, and Republi- 
cans the negative. This affirmative and denial form an 
issue; and this issue — this question — is precisely what 
the text declares our fathers understood better than we. 

Let us now inquire whether the "thirty-nine" or any 
of them ever acted upon this question ; and if they did, 
how they acted upon it — how they expressed that better 

In 1784 — three years before the Constitution — the 
United States then owning the North-western Territory, 


and no other — the Congress of the Confederation had 
before them the question of prohibiting slavery in that 
territory; and four of the "thirty-nine" who afterward 
framed the Constitution were in that Congress, and voted 
on tliat question. Of these, Iloger Sherman, Thomas 
Mifflin and Hugh "Williamson voted for the prohibition 
— thus showing that, in their understanding, no line 
dividing local from Federal authority, nor anything else, 
properly forbade the Federal Grovernment to control as to 
slavery in Federal territory. The other of the four — 
James McHenry — voted against the prohibition, showing 
that, for some cause, he thought it improper to vote for 

In 1787, still before the Constitution, but while the 
convention was in session framing it, and while the 
North-western Territory still was the only territory owned 
by the United States — the same question of prohibiting 
slavery in the territory again came before the Congress 
of the Confederation ; and three more of the " thirty- 
nine" who afterward signed the Constitution were in 
that Congress and voted on the question. They were 
William Blount, William Few, and Abraham Baldwin, 
and they all voted for the prohibition — thus showing 
that, in their understanding, no line dividing local from 
Federal authority, nor anything else, properly forbade 
the Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal 
territory. This time the prohibition became a law, being 
a part of what is now known as the ordinance of '87. 

The question of Federal control of slavery in the 
territories seems not to have been directly before the 
convention which framed the original Constitution ; and 
hence it is not recorded that the "thirty-nine," or any 
of them, while engaged on that instrument, expressed 
any opinion on that precise question. 


In 1789, by the first Congress wliicli sat under the 
Constitution, an act was passed to enforce the ordinance 
of '87, including the prohibition of slavery in the North- 
western Territory. The bill for this act was reported by 
one of the " thirty-nine," Thomas Fitzsimmons, then a 
member of the House of Representatives from Pennsyl- 
vania. It went through all its stages without a word 
of opposition, and finally passed both branches without 
yeas and nays, which is equivalent to a unanimous 
passage. In this Congress there were sixteen of the 
" thirty-nine " fathers who framed the original Consti- 
tution. They were : 

John Langdon, George Clymer, Richard Bassett, 

Nicholas Oilman, William Few, George Read, 

William S. Johnson, Abraham Baldwin, Pierce Butler, 

Roger Sherman, Rufiis King, Daniel Carroll, 

Robert Morris, William Patterson, James Madison, 

Thos. Fitzsimmons. 

This shows that in their understanding no line divid- 
ing local from Federal authority, nor anything in the 
Constitution, properly forbade Congress to prohibit slav- 
ery in the Federal territory ; else both their fidelity to cor- 
rect principle, and their oath to support the Constitution, 
would have constrained them to oppose the prohibition. 

Again, George Washington, another of the " thirty- 
nine," was then President of the United States, and, as 
such, approved and signed the bill, thus completing its 
validity as a law, and thus showing that, in his under- 
standing, no line dividing local from Federal authority, 
nor anything in the Constitution, forbade the Federal 
Government to control as to slavery in Federal terri- 

No great while after the adoption of the original Con- 


stitution, North Carolina ceded to the Federal Govern- 
ment the country now constituting the State of Tennes- 
see ; and a few years later, Georgia ceded that which 
now constitutes the States of Mississippi and Alabama. 
In both deeds of cession it was made a condition by the 
ceding States that the Federal Government should not 
prohibit slavery in the ceded country. Besides this, 
slavery was then actually in the ceded country. Under 
these circumstances, Congress, on taking charge of these 
countries, did not absolutely prohibit slavery within 
them. But they did interfere with it — take control of 
it — even there, to a certain extent. In 1798, Congress 
organized the territory of Mississippi. In the act of 
organization, they prohibited the bringing of slaves into 
the territories, from any place without the United States, 
by fine, and giving freedom to slaves so brought. This 
act passed both branches of Congress without yeas and 
nays. In that Congress were three of the " thirty-nine" 
who framed the original Constitution. They were John 
Langdon, George Read, and Abraham Baldwin. They 
all, probably, voted for it. Certainly they would have 
placed their opposition to it upon record, if, in their un- 
derstanding, any line dividing local from Federal author- 
ity, or anything in the Constitution, properly forbade the 
Federal Government to control as to slavery in Federal 

In 1803, the Federal Government purchased the Lou- 
isiana country. Our former territorial acquisitions came 
from certain of our own states ; but this Louisiana coun- 
try was acquired from a foreign nation. In 1801, Con- 
gress gave a territorial organization to that part of it 
which now constitutes the State of Louisiana. New Or- 
leans, lying within that part, was an old and compara- 
tively large city. There were other considerable towns 


and settlements, and slavery was extensively and thor- 
oughly intermingled with the people. Congress did not, 
in the territorial act, prohibit slavery ; but they did 
interfere with it — take control of it — in a more marked 
and extensive way than they did in the case of Missis- 
sippi. The substance of the provision therein made, in 
relation to slaves, was : 

First: That no slaves should be imported into the ter- 
ritory from foreign parts. 

Second: That no slave should be carried into it who 
had been imported into the United States since the first 
day of May, 1798. 

Third : That no slave should be carried into it, except 
by the owner, and for his own use as a settler; the pen- 
alty in all the cases being a fine upon the violator of the 
law, and freedom to the slave. 

This act, also, was passed without yeas and nays. In 
the Congress which passed it there were two of the 
" thirty-nine." They were Abraham Baldwin and Jon- 
athan Dayton. As stated in the case of Mississippi, it 
is probable they both voted for it; they would not have 
allowed it to pass without recording their opposition to 
it, if, in their understanding, it violated either the line 
properly dividing local from Federal authority or any 
provision of the Constitution. 

In 1819-20 came, and passed, the Missouri question. 
Many votes were taken by yeas and nays, in both 
branches of Congress, upon the various phases of the 
general question. Two of the "thirty-nine" — Rufus 
King and Charles Pinckney — were members of that 
Congress. Mr. King steadily voted for slavery prohibi- 
tion and against all compromises, while Mr. Pinckney 
as steadily voted against slavery prohibition and against 
all compromises. By this Mr. King showed that in his 


understanding, no line dividing local from Federal au- 
thority, nor anything in the Constitution, was violated 
hy Congress prohibiting slavery in Federal territory ; 
while Mr. Pinckney, by his votes, showed that in his 
understanding, there was some suflScient reason for op- 
posing such prohibition in that case. 

The cases I have mentioned are the only acts of the 
"thirty-nine," or any of them, upon the direct issue, 
which I have been able to discover. 

To enumerate the persons who thus acted, as being four 
in 1784, three in 1787, seventeen in 1789, three in 1798, 
two in 1804, and two in 1819-20— there would be thirty- 
one of them. But this would he counting John Langdon, 
Roger Sherman, William Few, Rufus King, and George 
Read, each twice, and Abraham Baldwin four times. 
The true number of those of the '^ thirty-nine," whom I 
have shown to have acted upon the question, which, by 
the test, they understood better than we, is twenty- 
three, leaving sixteen not shown to have acted upon it 
in any way. 

Here, then, we have twenty-three of our " thirty-nine'' 
fathers who framed the government under which we 
live, who have, upon their official responsibility and 
their corporal oaths, acted upon the very question which 
the text affirms they " understood just as well, and even 
better than we do now;" and twenty-one of them — a 
clear majority of the whole " thirty-nine " — so acting 
upon it as to make them guilty of gross political im- 
propriety and willful perjury, if, in their understanding, 
any proper division between local and Federal authority, 
or anything in the Constitution they had made them- 
selves and sworn to support, forbade the Federal Govern- 
ment to control, as to slavery, the Federal territories. 
Thus the twenty-one acted; and, as actions speak louder 


than words, so actions under sucli responsibility speak 
still louder. 

Two of the twenty-three voted against Congressional 
prohibition of slavery in the Federal territories, in the 
instances in which they acted upon the question. But 
for what reasons they so voted is not known. They may 
have done so because they thought a proper division of 
local from Federal authority, or some provision or prin- 
ciple of the Constitution, stood in the way; or they may, 
without any such question, have voted against the prohi- 
bition on what appeared to them to be sufficient grounds 
of expediency. No one who has sworn to support the 
Constitution can conscientiously vote for what he under- 
stands to be an unconstitutional measure, however expe- 
dient he may think it; but one may and ought to vote 
against a measure which he deems constitutional, if, at 
the same time, he deems it inexpedient. It, there- 
fore, would be unsafe to set down even the two who 
voted against the prohibition, as having done so be- 
cause, in their understanding, any proper division of 
local from Federal authority, or anything in the Consti- 
tution, forbade the Federal Government to control, as to 
slavery, in territory. 

The remaining sixteen of the " thirty-nine," so far as 
I have discovered, have left no record of their under- 
standing upon the direct question of Federal control of 
slavery in the Federal territories. But there is much 
reason to believe that their understanding upon that 
question would not have appeared different from that 
of their twenty-three compeers, had it been manifested 
at all. 

For the purpose of adhering rigidly to the text, I 
have purposely omitted whatever understanding may 
have been manifested, by any person, however distin- 


guished, other than ths thirty-nine fathers who framed 
the original Constitution ; and, for the same reason, I 
have also omitted whatever understanding may have 
been manifested by any of the "thirty-nine," even, on 
any other phase of the general question of slavery. If 
we should look into their acts and declarations on those 
other phases, as the foreign slave trade, and the moral- 
ity and policy of slavery generally, it ■would appear to U3 
that on the direct question of Federal control of slavery 
in Federal territories, the sixteen, if they had acted at all, 
would probably have acted just as the twenty-three did. 
Among that sixteen were several of the most noted anti- 
slavery men of those times — as Dr. Franklin, Alexander 
Hamilton, and Gouverneur Morris — while there was not 
one now known to have been otherwise, unless it may 
be John Rutledge, of South Carolina. 

The sum of the whole is, that of our "thirty-nine" 
fathers who framed the original Constitution, twenty- 
one — a clear majority of the whole — certainly under- 
stood that no proper division of local from Federal au- 
thority, nor any part of the Constitution, forbade the 
Federal Government to control slavery in the Federal 
territories ; while all the rest probably had the same 
understanding. Such, unquestionably, was the under- 
standing of our f\ithers who framed the original Consti- 
tution ; and the text affirms that they understood the 
question better than we. 

But, so far, I have been considering the understand- 
ing of the question manifested by the framers of the 
original Constitution. In and by the original instru- 
ment, a mode was provided for amending it; and, as I 
have already stated, the present frame of government 
under which we live consists of that original and twelve 
amendatory articles framed and adopted since. Those 


wto now insist that Federal control of slavery in Fed- 
eral territories violates the Constitution, point us to the 
provisions which they suppose it thus violates ; and, as I 
understand, they all fix upon provisions in these amend- 
atory articles, and not in the original instrument. The 
Supreme Court, in the Dred Scott case, plant themselves 
upon the fifth amendment, which provides that " no per- 
son shall be deprived of property without due process of 
law;" while Senator Douglas and his peculiar adherents 
plant themselves upon the tenth amendment, providing 
that " the powers not granted by the Constitution are 
reserved to the states respectively and to the people." 

Now, it so happens that these amendments were 
framed by the first Congress which sat under the Con- 
stitution — the identical Congress which passed the act 
already mentioned, enforcing the prohibition of slavery 
in the Northwestern Territory. Not only was it the same 
Congress, but they were the identical same individual 
men who, at the same session, and at the same time 
within the session, had under consideration, and iu 
progress toward maturity, these constitutional amend- 
ments and this act prohibiting slavery in all the territory 
the nation then owned. The constitutional amendments 
were introduced before and passed after the act enforcing 
the ordinance of 1787 ; so that during the whole pen- 
dency of the act to enforce the ordinance, the constitu- 
tional amendments were also pending. 

That Congress, consisting in allof seventy-six members, 
including sixteen of the framers of the original Consti- 
tution, as before stated, were pre-eminently our fathers 
who framed that part of the government under which 
we live which is now claimed as forbidding the Federal 
Government to control slavery in the Federal territories. 

Is it not a little presumptuous in any one at this day 


to affirm that the two things which that Congress de- 
liberately framed, and carried to maturity at the same 
time, are absolutely inconsistent with each other? And 
does not such affirmation become impudently absurd 
when coupled with the other affirmation, from the same 
mouth, that those who did the two things alleged to be 
inconsistent understood whether they really were incon- 
sistent better than we — better than he who affirms that 
they are inconsistent? 

It is surely safe to assume that the "thirty-nine" 
framers of the original Constitution, and the seventy-six 
members of the Congress which framed the amendments 
thereto, taken together, do certainly include those who 
may be fairly called " our fathers who framed the 
government under which w-s live." And so assuming, 
I defy any man to show that any one of them ever in 
his whole life declared that, in his understanding, any 
proper division of local from Federal authority, or any 
part of the Constitution, forbade the Federal Govern- 
ment to control as to slavery in the Federal territories. 
I go a step fiirther. I defy any one to show that any 
living man in the whole world ever did, prior to the 
beginning of the present century, (and I might almost 
yay prior to the beginning of the last half of the present 
century,) declare that, in his understanding, any proper 
division of local from Federal authority, or any part of 
the Constitution, forbade the Federal Government to 
control as to slavery in the Federal territories. To those 
who now so declare, I give, not only "our fathers who 
framed the government under which we live," but with 
them all other living men within the century in which 
it was framed, among whom to search, and they shall 
not be able to find the evidence of a single man agreeing 
with them. 


Now, and here, let me guard a little against being 
misunderstood. I do uot mean to say wc are bound to 
follow implicitly in whatever our fathers did. To do so 
would be to discard all the lights of current experience 
— to reject all progress — all improvement. What I do 
Bay is, that if we would supplant the opinions and 
policy of our fathers in any case, we should do so upon 
evidence so conclusive, and argument so clear, that even 
their great authority, fairly considered and weighed, can 
not stand; and most surely not in a case whereof we 
ourselves declare they understood the question better 
than we. 

If any man, at this day, sincerely believes that a 
proper division of local from Federal authority, or any 
part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Government 
to control as to slavery in the Federal territories, he is 
right to say so, and to enforce his position by all truth- 
ful evidence and fair argument which he can. But he 
has no right to mislead others, who have less access to 
history and less leisure to study it, into the false belief 
that "our fathers, who framed the government under 
which we live," were of the same opinion — thus substi- 
tuting falsehood and deception for truthful evidence and 
fair argument. If any man at this day sincerely be- 
lieves " our lathers, who framed the government under 
which we live," used and applied principles, in other 
cases, which ought to have led them to understand that 
a proper division of local from Federal authority, or 
some part of the Constitution, forbids the Federal Gov- 
ernment to control as to slavery in the Federal territo- 
ries, he is right to say so. But he should, at the same 
time, brave the responsibility of declaring that, in his 
opinion, he understands their principles better than they 
did themselves; and especially should he not shirk that 


responsibility by asserting that they "understood the 
question just as well, and even better, than we do now." 

But enough. Let all who believe that " our fathers, 
who framed the government under which we live, un- 
derstood this question just as well, and even better, than 
we do now," speak as they spoke, and act as they acted 
upon it. This is all Republicans ask — all Republicans 
desire — in relation to slavery. As those fathers marked 
it, so let it be again marked, as an evil not to be ex- 
tended, but to be tolerated and protected only because 
of and so far as its actual presence among us makes that 
toleration and protection a necessity. Let all the guar- 
antees those fathers gave it be, not grudgingly, but fully 
and fairly maintained. For this Republicans contend, 
and with this, so far as I know or believe, they will be 

And now, if they would listen — as I suppose they 
will not — I would address a few words to the Southern 

I would say to them : You consider yourselves a rea- 
sonable and just people, and I consider that in the gen- 
eral qualities of reason and justice you are not inferior 
to any other people. Still, when you speak of us 
Republicans you do so only to denounce us as reptiles, 
or, at the best, as no better than outlaws. You will 
grant a hearing to pirates or murderers, but nothing- 
like it to " Black Republicans." In all your conten- 
tions with one another, each of you deems an uncon- 
ditional condemnation of "Black Republicanism" as 
the first thing to-be attended to. Indeed, such condem- 
nation of us seems to be an indispensable prerequisite 
— license, so to speak — among you, to be admitted or 
permitted to speak at all. 

Now, can you, or not, be prevailed upon to pause and 


to consider whether this is quite just to us, or even to 

Bring forward your charges and specifications, and 
then be patient long enough to hear us deny or justify. 

You say we are sectional. We deny it. That makes 
an issue ; and the burden of proof is upon you. You 
produce your proof; and what is it? Why, that our 
party has no existence in your section — gets no votes 
in your section. The fact is substantially true ; but 
does it prove the issue? If it does, then, in case we 
should, without change of principle, begin to get votes 
in your section, we should thereby cease to be sectional. 
You can not escape this conclusion ; and yet, are you 
willing to abide by it? If you are, you will probably 
soon find that we have ceased to be sectional, for we 
shall get votes in your section this very year. You will 
then begin to discover, as the truth plainly is, that your 
proof does not touch the issue. The fact that we get 
no votes in your section is a fact of your making, and 
not of ours. And if there be fault in that fact, that 
fault is primarily yours, and remains so until you show 
that we repel you by some wrong principle or practice. 
If we do repel you by any wrong principle or practice, 
the fault is ours; but this brings you to where you 
ought to have started — to a discussion of the right or 
wrong of our principle. If our principle, put in prac- 
tice, would wrong your section for the benefit of ours, 
or for any other object, then our principle, and we with 
it, are sectional, and are justly opposed and denounced 
as such. Meet us, then, on the question of whether our 
principle, put in practice, would wrong your section : 
and so meet it as if it wei-e possible that something may 
be said on our side. Do you accept the challenge? No? 
Then you really believe that the principle which our 


fathers, who framed the government under which we 
live, thought so clearly right as to adopt it, and indorse 
it again and again, upon their official oaths, is, in fact, 
so clearly wrong as to demand your condemnation with- 
out a moment's consideration. 

Some of you delight to flaunt in our faces the warn- 
ing against sectional parties given by Washington in his 
Farewell Address. Less than eight years before Wash- 
ington gave that warning, he had, as President of the 
United States, approved and signed an act of Congress 
enforcing the prohibition of slavery in the Northwest- 
ern Territory, which act embodied the policy of the 
government upon that subject, up to and at the very 
moment he penned that warning; and about one year 
after he penned it, he wrote Lafayette that he considered 
that prohibition a wise measure, expressing, in the same 
connection, his hope that we should some time have a 
confederacy of free states. 

J3earing this in mind, and seeing that sectionalism has 
since arisen upon this same subject, is that warning a 
weapon in your hands against us, or in our hands 
against you? Could Washington himself speak, would 
he cast the blame of that sectionalism upon us, who 
sustain his policy, or upon you who repudiate it? We 
respect that warning of Washington, and we commend 
it to you, together with his example pointing to the right 
application of it. 

But you say you are conservative — eminently con- 
servative — while we are revolutionary, destructive, or 
something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it 
not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and 
untried? We stick to contend for the identical old pol- 
icy, on the point of controversy, which was adopted by 
our fathers who framed the government under which we 


live; while you -with one accord reject, and scout, and 
spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting 
something new. True, you disagree among yourselves 
as to what that substitute shall be. You have consider- 
able variety of new propositions and plans, but you are 
unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy 
of the fathers. Some of you are for reviving the for- 
eign slave trade ; some for a congressional slave code for 
the territories ; some for Congress forbidding the terri- 
tories to prohibit slavery within their limits; some for 
maintaining slavery in the territories through the judi- 
ciary ; some for the ''gur-reat pur-rinciple " that "if 
one man would enslave another, no third man should 
object," fantastically called "popular sovereignty;" but 
never a man among you in favor of Federal prohibition 
of slavery in Federal territories, according to the prac- 
tice of our fathers who framed the government under 
which we live. Not one of all your various plans can 
show a precedent or an advocate in the century with- 
in which our government originated. Consider, then, 
whether your claim of conservatism for yourselves, and 
your charge of destructiveness against us, are based on 
the most clear and stable foundations. 

Again, you say we have made the slavery question 
more prominent than it formerly was. We deny it. We 
admit that it is more prominent, but we deny that we 
made it so. It was not we, but you, who discarded the 
old policy of the fathers. We resisted, and still resist, 
your innovation ; and thence comes the greater promi- 
nence of the question. Would you have that question 
reduced to its former proportions? Go back to that old 
policy. What has been will be again, under the same 
conditions. If you would have the peace of the old 
times, readopt the precepts and policy of the old times. 


You charge that we stir up insurrections among your 
slaves. We deny it; and what is your proof? Harper's 
Ferry! John Brown ! John Brown was no Republican ; 
and you have failed to implicate a single Bepublicau in 
his Harper's Ferry enterprise. If any member of our 
party is guilty in that matter, you know it or you do 
not know it. If you do know it, you are inexcusable 
to not designate the man and prove the fact. If you 
do not know it, you are inexcusable to assert it, and 
especially to persist in the assertion after you have tried 
and failed to make the proof. You need not be told 
that persisting in a charge which one does not know to 
be true, is simply malicious slander. 

Some of you admit that no Eepublican designedly 
aided or encouraged the Harper's Ferry affair, but still 
insist that our doctrines and declarations necessarily lead 
to such results. We do not believe it. We know we 
hold to no doctrines, and make no declarations, which 
were not held to and made by our fathers who framed 
the government under which we live. You never dealt 
fairly by us in relation to this affair. When it occurred, 
some important state elections were near at hand, and 
you were in evident glee with the belief that, by charg- 
ing the blame upon us you could get an advantage of us 
in those elections. The elections came, and your ex- 
pectations were not quite fulfilled. Every Republican 
man knew that, as to himself at least, your charge was a 
slander, and he was not much inclined by it to cast his 
vote in your favor. Republican doctrines and declara- 
tions are accompanied with a continual protest against 
any interference whatever with your slaves, or with you 
about your slaves. Surely this does not encourage them 
to revolt. True, we do, in common with our fathers 
who framed the government under which we live, de- 


clare our belief that slavery is wrong ; but the slaves do 
not hear us declare even this. For anj'thing we say or 
do, the slaves would scarcely know there is a Republican 
party. I believe they would not, in fact, generally know 
it but for your misrepresentations of us in their hearing. 
In your political contests among yourselves, each faction 
charges the other with sympathy with Black Republi- 
canism ; and then, to give point to the charge, defines 
Black Republicanism to simply be insurrection, blood 
and thunder among the slaves. 

Slave insurrections are no more common now than 
they were before the Republican party was organized. 
What induced the Southampton insurrection, twenty- 
eight years ago, in which at least three times as many 
lives were lost as at Harper's Ferry? You can scarcely 
stretch your very elastic fancy to the conclusion that 
Southampton was got up by Black Republicanism. In 
the present state of things in the United States, I do not 
think a general, or even a very extensive slave insurrec- 
tion is possible. The indispensable concert of action 
cannot be attained. The slaves have no means of rapid 
communication ; nor can incendiary free men, black or 
white, supply it. The explosive materials are every- 
where in parcels ; but there neither are, nor can be sup- 
plied, the indispensable connecting trains. 

Much is said by Southern people about the affection 
of slaves for their masters and mistresses ; and a part of 
it, at least, is true. A plot for an uprising could scarcely 
be devised and communicated to twenty individuals be- 
fore some one of them, to save the life of a favorite mas- 
ter or mistress, would divulge it. This is the rule ; and 
the slave revolution in Hayti was not an exception to it, 
but a case occurring under peculiar circumstances. The 
gunpowder plot of British history, though not connected 


with slaves, was more in point. In that case only about 
twenty were admitted to the secret; and yet one of them, 
in his anxiety to save a friend, betrayed the plot to that 
friend, and, by consequence, averted the calamity. 

Occasional poisonings from the kitchen, and open or 
stealthy assassinations in the field, and local revolts ex- 
tending to a score or so, will continue to occur as the 
natural results of slavery ; but no general insurrection 
of slaves, as I think, can happen in this country for a 
long time. Whoever much fears, or much hopes, for 
such an event, will be alike disappointed. 

In the language of Mr. Jefferson, uttered many years 
ago, " It is still in our power to direct the process of 
emancipation and deportation peaceably, and in such 
slow degrees, as that the evil will wear off insensibly ; 
and their places be, pari passu, filled up by free white 
laborers. If, on the contrary, it is left to force itself 
on, human nature must shudder at the prospect held 

Mr. Jefferson did not mean to say, nor do I, that the 
power of emancipation is in the Federal Government, 
He spoke of Virginia ; and, as to the power of emanci- 
pation, I speak of the slaveholding states only. 

The Federal Government, however, as we insist, has 
the power of restraining the extension of the institution 
■ — the power to insure that a slave insurrection shall 
never occur on any American soil which is now free 
from slavery. 

John Brown's effort was peculiar. It was not a slave 
insurrection. It was an attempt by white men to get up 
a revolt among slaves, in which the slaves refused to 
participate. In fact, it was so absurd that the slaves, 
with all their ignorance, saw plainly enough it could not 
succeed. That affair, in its philosophy, corresponds 


with the many attempts, related in history, at the assas- 
sination of kings and emperors. An enthusiast broods 
over the oppression of a people till he fancies himself 
commissioned by Heaven to liberate them. He ventures 
the attempt, which ends in little else than in his own 
execution. Orsini's attempt on Louis Napoleon, and 
John Brown's attempt at Harper's Ferry, were, in their 
philosophy, precisely the same. The eagerness to cast 
blame on old England in the one case, and on New Eng- 
land in the other, does not disprove the sameness of the 
two things. 

And how much would it avail you if you could, by the 
use of John Brown, Helper's book, and the like, break 
up the Republican organization ? Human action can be 
modified to some extent, but human nature cannot be 
changed. There is a judgment and a feeling against 
slavery in this nation, which cast at least a million and 
a half of votes. You cannot destroy that judgment and 
feeling — that sentiment — by breaking up the political 
organization which rallies around it. You can scarcely 
scatter and disperse an army which has been formed into 
order in the face of your heaviest fire; but if you could, 
how much would you gain by forcing the sentiment 
which created it out of the peaceful channel of the bal- 
lot-box into some other channel ? What would that 
other channel probably be? Would the number of John 
Browns be lessened or enlarged by the operation ? 

But you will break up the Union, rather than submit 
to a denial of your Constitutional rights. 

That has a somewhat reckless sound ; but it would be 
palliated, if not fully justified, were we proposing, by the 
mere force of numbers, to deprive you of some right, 
plainly written down in the Constitution. But we are 
proposing no such thing. 


When you make these declarations, you have a specific 
and well understood allusion to an assumed Constitu- 
tional right of yours, to take slaves into the Federal 
Territories, and to hold them there as property. But 
no such right is specifically written in the Constitution. 
That instrument is literally silent about any such right. 
We, on the contrary, deny that such a right has any ex- 
istence in the Constitution, even by implication. 

Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is, that you will 
destroy the government unless you be allowed to con- 
strue and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all 
points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or 
ruin in all events. 

This, plainly stated, is your language to us. Perhaps 
you will say the Supreme Court has decided the disputed 
constitutional question in your favor. Not quite so. 
But, waiving the lawyers' distinction between dictum 
and decision, the court have decided the question for you 
in a sort of way. The court have substantially said it ig 
your constitutional right to take slaves into the Federal 
territories, and to hold them there as property. 

When I say the decision was made in a sort of way, I 
mean it was made in a divided court, by a bare majority 
of the judges, and they not quite agreeing with one an- 
other in the reasons for making it ; that it is so made as 
that its avowed supporters disagree with one another 
about its meaning ; and that it was mainly based upon a 
mistaken statement of fact — the statement in the opinion 
that "the right of property in a slave is distinctly and 
expressly afiirmed in the Constitution." 

An inspection of the Constitution will show that the 
right of property in a slave is not distinctly and expressly 
afiirmed in it. Bear in mind the judges do not pledge 
their judicial opinion that such right is implicitly afBrm- 


ed in the Constitution ; but they pledge their veracity 
that it is distinctly and expressly afErmed there — " dis- 
tinctly" — that is, not mingled with anything else — "ex- 
pressly" — that is, in words meaning just that, without 
the aid of any inference, and susceptible of no other 

If they had only pledged their judicial opinion, that 
such right is affirmed in the instrument by implication, 
it would be open to others to show that, either the word 
"slave" nor "slavery" is to be found in the Constitu- 
tion, nor the word "property" even, in any connection 
with language alluding to the things slave or slavery, 
and that wherever, in that instrument, the slave is allud- 
ed to, he is called " a person ;" and wherever his mas- 
ter's legal right in relation to him is alluded to, it is 
spoken of as "service or labor due," as a " debt" paya- 
ble in service or labor. 

Also, it would be open to show, by cotemporaneous 
history, that this mode of alluding to slaves and slavery, 
instead of speaking of them, was employed on purpose to 
exclude from the Constitution the idea that there could 
be property in man. 

To show all this is easy and certain. 

When this obvious mistake of the judges shall be 
brought to their notice, is it not reasonable to expect 
that they will withdraw the mistaken statement, and re- 
consider the conclusion based upon it ? 

And then it is to be remembered that " our fatherSy 
who framed the government under which we live " — the 
men who made the Constitution — decided this same con- 
stitutional question in our favor, long ago — decided it 
without a division among themselves, when making the 
decision ; without division among themselves about tho 
meaning of it after it was made, and so far as any evi- 


dence is left, without basing it upon any mistaken state- 
ment of facts. 

Under all tliese circumstances, do you really feel your- 
selves justified to break up this government, unless such 
a court decision as yours is shall be at once submitted to 
as a conclusive and final rule of political action ? 

But you will not abide the election of a Republican 
President. In that supposed event, you say, you will 
destroy the Union ; and then, you say, the great crime 
of having destroyed it will be upon us? 

That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, 
and mutters through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I 
shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer !" 

To be sure, what the robber demanded of me — my 
money — was my own; and I had a clear right to keep it; 
but it was no more my own than my vote is my own ; 
and the threat of death to me, to extort my money, and 
the threat of destruction to the Union, to extort my vote, 
can scarcely be distinguished in principle. 

A few words now to Republicans. It is exceedingly 
desirable that all parts of this great confederacy shall be 
at peace, and in harmony, one with another. Let us Re- 
publicans do our part to have it so. Even though much 
provoked, let us do nothing through passion and ill tem- 
per. Even though the Southern people will not so much 
as listen to us, let us calmly consider their demands, and 
yield to them if, in our deliberate view of our duty, we 
possibly can. Judging by all they say and do, and by 
the subject and nature of their controversy with us, let 
us determine, if we can, what will satisfy them. 

Will they be satisfied if the territories be uncondition- 
ally surrendered to them ? We know they will not. In 
all their present complaints against us, the territories 
are scarcely mentioned. Invasions and insurrections 


are the rage now. Will it satisfy them if, in tlie future, 
we have nothing to do with invasions and insurrections? 
We know it will not. We so know because we know we 
never had anything to do with invasions and insurrec- 
tions ; and yet this total abstaining does not exempt us 
from the charge and the denunciation. 

The question recurs, what will satisfy them ? Simply 
this : We must not only let them alone, but we must, 
somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. 
This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have 
been so trying to convince them from the very begin- 
ning of our organization, but with no success. In all 
our platforms and speeches, we have constantly protest- 
ed our purpose to let them alone ; but this has had no 
tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to con- 
vince them is the fact that they have never detected a 
man of us in any attempt to disturb them. 

These natural and apparently adequate means all fail- 
ing, what will convince them ? This, and this only : 
Cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it 
right. And this must be done thoroughly — done in acts 
as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated — we 
must place ourselves avowedly with them. Douglas's 
new sedition law must be enacted, and enforced, sup- 
pressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether 
made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. 
We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with 
greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State 
Constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disin- 
fected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they 
will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from 

I am quite aware they do not state their case precisely 
in this way. Most of them would probably say to us, 


" Let US alone, do nothing to us, and say what you 
please about slavery." But we do let them alone — have 
never disturbed them — so that, after all, it is what we say 
which dissatisfies them. They will continue to accuse 
us of doing until we cease saying. 

I am also aware they have not, as yet, in terms, de- 
manded the overthrow of our Free State Constitutions. 
Yet those Constitutions declare the wrong of slavery with 
more solemn emphasis than do all other sayings against 
it; and when all other sayings shall have been silenced, 
the overthrow of these Constitutions will be demanded, 
and nothing be left to resist the demand. It is nothing 
to the contrary that they do not demand the whole of 
this just now. Demanding what they do, and for the 
reason they do, they can voluntarily stop nowhere short 
of this consummation. Holding, as they do, that slavery 
is morally right and socially elevating, they can not cease 
to demand a full national recognition of it, as a legal 
right and a social blessing. 

Nor can we justifiably withhold this on any ground, 
save our conviction that slavery is wrong. If slavery is 
right, all words, acts, laws, and Constitutions against it, 
are themselves wrong, and should be silenced and swept 
away. If it is right, we can not justly object to its 
nationality — its universality; if it is wrong, they can 
not justly insist upon its extension — its enlargement. 
All they ask we could readily grant, if we thought slav- 
ery right; all we ask they could readily grant, if they 
thought it wrong. 

Their thinking it right, and our thinking it wrong, 
is the precise fact upon which depends the whole con- 
troversy. Thinking it right, as they do, they are not to 
blame for desiring its full recognition, as being right; 
but, thinking it wrong, as we do, can we yield to them? 


Caa we cast our votes with their -view, and against our 
own? In view of our moral, social, and political respon- 
sibilities, can we do this ? 

Wrong as we think slavery is, we can yet afford to let 
it alone where it is, because that much is due to the 
necessity arising from its actual presence in the nation; 
but can we, while our votes will prevent it, allow it to 
spread into the national territories, and to overrun us 
here in these free states ? 

If our sense of duty forbids this, then let us stand 
by our duty, fearlessly and effectively. Let us be divert- 
ed by none of those sophistical contrivances wherewith 
we are so industriously plied and belabored — contrivan- 
ces such as groping for some middle ground between 
the right and the wrong, vain as the search for a man 
who should be neither a living man nor a dead man — 
such as a policy of "don't care " on a question about 
which all true men do care — such as Union appeals be- 
seeching true Union men to yield to disunionists, re- 
versing the Divine rule, and calling, not the sinners, but 
the righteous to repentance — such as invocations of 
Washington, imploring men to unsay what Washington 
said, and undo what Washington did. 

Neither let us be slandered from our duty by false 
accusations against us, nor frightened from it by mena- 
ces of destruction to the government, nor of dungeons 
to ourselves. Let us have faith that right makes might; 
and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty 
as we understand it. 




Fellow-citizens of the State of Ohio: I can not 
fail to remember that I appear for the first time before 
an audience in this now great State — an audience that is 
accustomed to hear such speakers as Corwin, and Chase, 
and Wade, and many other renowned men ; and remem- 
bering this, I feel that it will be well for you, as for me, 
that you should not raise your expectations to that 
standard to which you would haves been justified in rais- 
ing them had one of these distinguished men appeared 
before you. You would perhaps be only preparing a 
disappointment for yourselves, and, as a consequence 
of your disappointment, mortification to me. I hope, 
therefore, that you will commence with very moderate 
expectations ; and perhaps, if you will give me your 
attention, I shall be able to interest you to a moderate 

Appearing here for the first time in my life, I have 
been somewhat embarrassed for a topic by way of intro- 
duction to my speech ; but I have been relieved from 
that embarrassment by an introduction which the Ohio 
Statesman newspaper gave me this morning. In this 
paper, I have read an article, in which, among other 
statements, I find the following: 


"In debating with Senator Douglas during the memorable con- 
test of last fall, Mr. Lincoln declared in favor of negro suffrage, 
and attempted to defend that vile conception against the Little 

I mention this now, at the opening of my remarks, for 
the purpose of making three comments upon it. The 
first I have already announced — it furnishes me an in- 
troductory topic ; the second is to show that the gentle- 
man is mistaken ; thirdly, to give him an opportunity 
to correct it. 

In the first place, in regard to this matter being a mis- 
take. I have found that it is not entirely safe, when one 
is misrepresented under his very nose, to allow the mis- 
representation to go uncontradicted. I therefore pro- 
pose here, at the outset, not only to say that this is a 
misrepresentation, but to show conclusively that it is so ; 
and you will bear with me while I read a couple of ex- 
tracts from that very " memorable " debate with Judge 
Douglas last year, to which this newspaper refers. In 
the first pitched battle which Senator Douglas and my- 
self had, at the town of Ottawa, I used the language 
which I will now read. Having been previously reading 
an extract, I continued as follows : 

" Now, gentlemen, I don't want to read at any greater 
length, but this is the true complexion of all I have ever 
said in regard to the institution of slavery and the black 
race. This is the whole of it, and anything that argues 
me into his idea of perfect social and political equality 
with the negro, is but a specious and fastastic arrange- 
ment of words, by which a man can prove a horse- 
chestnut to be a chestnut horse. I will say here, while 
upon this subject, that I have no purpose directly or 
indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in 
the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful 


right to do so, and I have lio inclination to do so. I 
have no purpose to introduce political and social equal- 
ity between the white and the black races. There is a 
physical difference between the two which, in my judg- 
ment, will probably forbid their ever living together 
upon the footing of perfect equality ; and inasmuch as 
it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, 
I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to 
which I belong having the superior position. I have 
never said anything to the contrary, but I hold that, 
notwithstanding all this, there is no reason in the world 
■why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights 
enumerated in the Declaration of Independence — the 
right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I 
hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white 
man. I agree with Judge Douglas, he is not my equal 
in many respects — certainly not in color, perhaps not in 
moral or intellectual endowments. But in the right to 
eat the bread, without leave of anybody else, which his 
own hand earns, lie is my equal, and the equal of Judge 
Douglas, and the equal of every living man.'' 

Upon a subsequent occasion, when the reason for 
making a statement like this recurred, I said : 

" While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentle- 
man called upon me to know whether I was really in 
favor of producing perfect equality between the negroes 
and white people. While I had not proposed to myself 
on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the 
question was asked me, I thought I would occupy per- 
haps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. 
I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in 
favor of bringing about in any way the social and polit- 
ical equality of the white and black races — that I am not 
nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of 


negroe?, nor of qualifying them to hold office, or inter- 
marry with white people; and I will say in addition to 
this, that there is a physical dilference between the white 
and black races which I believe will forever forbid the 
two races living together on terms of social and politi- 
cal equality. And inasmuch as they can not so live, 
■while they do remain together there must be the posi- 
tion of superior and inferior, and I, as much as any 
other man, am in favor of having the superior position 
assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I 
do not perceive that because the white man is to have 
the superior position, the negro should be denied every- 
thing. I do not understand that because I do not want 
a negro woman for a slave, I must necessarily want her 
for a wife. My understanding is that I can just let her 
alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly 
never have had a black woman for either a slave or a 
wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get 
along without making either slaves or wives of negroes. 
I will add to this that I have never seen to my knowl- 
edge a man, woman, or child, who was in favor of pro- 
ducing perfect equality, social and political, between 
negroes and white men. I recollect of but one distin- 
guished instance that I ever heard of so frequently as 
to be satisfied of its correctness — and that is the case of 
Judge Douglas's old friend. Colonel Richard M. Johnson. 
I will also add to the remarks I have made (for I am not 
going to enter at large upon this subject,) that I have 
never had the least apprehension that I or my friends 
•would marry negroes, if there was no law to keep them 
from it ; but as Judge Douglas and his friends seem to 
be in great apprehension that they might, if there were 
no law to keep them from it, I give him the most sol- 
emn pledge that I will, to the very last, stand by the 


law of the State, -which forbids the marrying of white 
people with negroes." 

There, my friends, you have briefly what I have, on 
former occasions, said upon the subject to which this 
newspaper, to the extent of its ability, has drawn the 
public attention. In it you not only perceive, as a 
probability, that in that contest I did not at any time 
say I was in favor of negro suffrage, but the absolute 
proof that twice, once substantially and once expressly, 
I declared against it. Having shown you this, there 
remains but a word of comment upon that newspaper 
article. It is this : that I presume the editor of that 
paper is an honest and truth-loving man, and that he 
will be greatly obliged to me for furnishing him thus 
early an opportunity to correct the misrepresentation he 
has made, before it has run so long that malicious people 
can call him a liar. 

The Giant himself has been here recently. I have 
seen a brief report of his speech. If it were otherwise 
unpleasant to me to introduce the subject of the negro 
as a topic for discussion, I might be somewhat relieved 
by the fact that he dealt exclusively in that subject 
while he was here. I shall, therefore, without much 
hesitation or diffidence, enter upon this subject. 

The American people, on the first day of January, 
1854, found the African slave-trade prohibited by a law 
of Congress. In a majority of the states of this Union, 
they found African slavery, or any other sort of slavery, 
prohibited by State Constitutions. They also found a 
law existing, supposed to be valid, by which slavery was 
excluded from almost all the territory the United States 
then owned. This was the condition of the country, 
with reference to the institution of slavery, on the first 
of January, 1854. A few days after that, a bill was 


introduced into Congress, which ran through its regular 
course in the two branches of the National Legislature, 
and finally passed into a law in the month of May, by 
which the act of Congress prohibiting slavery from going 
into the Territories of the United States was repealed. 
In connection with the law itself, and, in fact, in the terms 
of the law, the then existing prohibition was not only 
repealed, but there was a declaration of a purpose on the 
part of Congress never thereafter to exercise any power 
that they might have, real or supposed, to prohibit the 
extension or spread of slavery. This was a very great 
change ; for the law thus repealed was of more than 
thirty years' standing. Following rapidly upon the 
heels of this action of Congress, a decision of the Su- 
preme Court is made, by which it is declared that Con- 
gress, if it desires to prohibit the spread of slavery into 
the territories, has no constitutional power to do so. 
Not only so, but that decision lays down principles, 
which, if pushed to their logical conclusion — I say 
pushed to their logical conclusion — would decide that 
the Constitutions of free states, forbidding slavery, are 
themselves unconstitutional. Mark me, I do not say 
the judge said this, and let no man say I affirm the judge 
used these words; but I only say it is my opinion that 
what they did say, if pressed to its logical conclusion, 
will inevitably result thus. 

Looking at these things, the Eepublican party, as I 
understand its principles and policy, believe that there 
is great danger of the institution of slavery being spread 
out and extended, until it is ultimately made alike law- 
ful in all the states of this Union ; so believing, to pre- 
vent that incidental and ultimate consummation, is the 
original and chief purpose of the Republican organiza- 
tion. I say " chief purpose " of the Eepublican or^an- 


ization ; for it is certainly true that if the national house 
shall fall into the hands of the Eepublicans, they \yill 
have to attend to all the other matters of national house- 
keeping, as well as this. The chief and real purpose of 
the Republican party is eminently conservative. It pro- 
poses nothing save and except to restore this government 
to its original tone in regard to this element of slavery, 
and there to maintain it, looking for no further change in 
reference to it, than that which the original framers of the 
government themselves expected and looked forward to. 

The chief danger to this purpose of the Republican 
party is not just now the revival of the African slave 
trade, or the passage of a Congressional slave code, or 
the declaring of a second Dred Scott decision, making 
slavery lawful in all the states. These are not pressing 
us just now. They are not quite ready yet. The au- 
thors of these measures know that we are too strong for 
them; but they will be upon us in due time, and we will 
be grappling with them hand to hand, if they are not 
now headed off. They are not now the chief danger to 
the purpose of the Republican organization ; but the 
most imminent danger that now threatens that pur- 
pose is that insidious Douglas popular sovereignty. 
This is the miner and sapper. While it does not pro- 
pose to revive the African slave-trade, nor to pass a 
slave code, nor to make a second Dred Scott decision, it 
is preparing us for the onslaught and charge of these 
ultimate enemies when they shall be ready to come on, 
and the word of command for them to advance shall be 
given. I say this Douglas popular sovereignty — for 
there is a broad distinction, as I now understand it, be- 
tween that article and a genuine popular sovereignty. 

I believe there is a genuine popular sovereignty. I 
think a definition of genuine popular sovereignty, in the 


abstract, would be about this : That each man shall do 
precisely as he pleases with himself, and with all those 
things which exclusively concern him. Applied to gov- 
ernment, this principle would be, that a General Gov- 
ernment shall do all those things which pertain to it, 
and all the local governments shall do precisely as they 
please in respect to those matters which exclusively con- 
cern them. I understand that this government of the 
United States, under which we live, is based upon this 
principle ; and I am misunderstood if it is supposed that 
I have any war to make upon that principle. 

Now, what is Judge Douglas's popular sovereignty? 
It is, as a principle, no other than that, if one man 
chooses to make a slave of another man, neither that 
other man nor anybody else has a right to object. Ap- 
plied in Government, as he seeks to apply it, it is this : 
If, in a new territory into which a few people are begin- 
ning to enter for the purpose of making their homes, 
they choose to either exclude slavery from their limits, or 
to establish it there, however one or the other may affect 
the persons to be enslaved, or the infinitely greater num- 
ber of persons who are afterward to inhabit that territory, 
or the other members of the families of communities, of 
which they are but an incipient member, or the general 
head of the family of states as parent of all — however 
their action may affect one or the other of these, there is 
no power or right to interfere. That is Douglas's popu- 
lar sovereignty applied. 

He has a good deal of trouble with popular sovereign- 
ty. His explanations explanatory of explanations ex- 
plained are interminable. The most lengthy, and, as I 
suppose, the most maturely considered of his long series 
of explanations, is his great essay in Harper s Magazine. 
I will not attempt to enter on any very thorough invest- 


igation of his argument, as there made and presented. I 
•will nevertheless occupy a good portion of j'our time here 
in drawing your attention to certain points in it. 

Such of you as may have read this document will have 
perceived that the judge, early in the document, quotes 
from two persons as belonging to the Republican party, 
without naming them, but who can readily be recognized 
as being Governor Seward, of New York, and myself. 

It is true, that exactly fifteen months ago this day, I 
believe, I, for the first time, expressed a sentiment upon 
this subject, and in such a manner that it should get into 
print, that the public might see it beyond the circle of 
my hearers ; and my expression of it at that time is the 
quotation that Judge Douglas makes. He has not made 
the quotation with accuracy, but justice to him requires 
me to say that it is sufficiently accurate not to change its 

The sense of that quotation condensed is this — that 
this slavery element is a durable element of discord 
among us, and that we shall probably not have perfect 
peace in this country with it, until it either masters the 
free principle in our government, or is so far mastered 
by the free principle as for the public mind to rest in the 
belief that it is going to its end. This sentiment, which 
I now express in this way, was, at no great distance of 
time, perhaps in different language, and in connection 
with some collateral ideas, expressed by Governor Seward. 
Judge Douglas has been so much annoyed by the ex- 
pression of that sentiment that he has constantly, I be- 
lieve, in almost all his speeches since it was uttered, been 
referring to it. I find he alluded to it in his speech here, 
as well as in the copy-right essay. 

I do not now enter upon this for the purpose of mak- 
ing an elaborate ariiumcnt to show that we were ri^ht iu 


the expression of that sentiment. In other words, I 
shall not stop to say all that might properly be said upon 
this point ; but I only ask your attention to it for the 
purpose of making one or two points upon it. 
I If you will read the copy-right essay, you will discover 
that Judge Douglas himself says a controversy between 
the American colonies and the government of Great 
Britain began on the slavery question in 1699. and con- 
tinued from that time until the revolution ; and, while 
he did not say so, we all know that it has continued with 
more or less violence ever since the revolution. 

Then we need not appeal to history, to the declaration 
of the framers of the government, but we know from 
Judge Douglas himself that slavery began to be an ele- 
ment of discord among the white people of this country 
as far back as 1699, or one hundred and sixty years ago, 
or five generations of men — counting thirty years to a 
generation. Now it would seem to me that it might 
have occurred to Judge Douglas, or anybody who had 
turned his attention to these facts, that there was some- 
thing in the nature of that thing, slavery, somewhat du- 
rable for mischief and discord. 

There is another point I desire to make in regard to 
this matter, before I leave it. From the adoption of the 
Constitution down to 1820 is the precise period of our 
history when we had comparative peace upon this ques- 
tion — the precise period of time when we came nearer 
to having peace about it than any other time of that en- 
tire one hundred and sixty years, in which he says it be- 
gan, or of the eighty years of our own Constitution. Then 
it would be worth our while to stop and examine into the 
probable reason of our coming nearer to having peace 
then than at any other time. This was the precise period 
of time in which our fathers adopted, and during which 


they followed, a policy restricting the spread of slavery, 
and the -whole Union was acquiescing in it. The whole 
country looked forward to the ultimate extinction of the 
institution. It was when a policy had been adopted and 
■was prevailing, which led all just and right-minded men 
to suppose that slavery was gradually coming to an end, 
and that they might be quiet about it, watching it as it 

I think Judge Douglas might have perceived that too, 
and whether he did or not, it is worth the attention of 
fair-minded men, here and elsewhere, to consider wheth- 
er that is not the truth of the case. If he had looked at 
these two facts, that this matter has been an clement of 
discord for one hundred and sixty years among this peo- 
ple, and that the only comparative peace we have had 
about it was when that policy prevailed in this govern- 
ment, which he now wars upon, he might then, perhaps, 
have been brought to a more just appreciation of what I 
Baid fifteen months ago — that " a house divided against 
itself can not stand. I believe that this government can 
not endure permanently half slave and half free. I do 
not expect the house to fall. I do not expect the Union 
to dissolve ; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. 
It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the 
opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, 
and place it where the public mind will rest in the belief 
that it is in the course of ultimate extinction ; or its ad- 
vocates will push it forward, until it shall become alike 
lawful in all the states, old as well as new. North as well 
as South." Tliat was my sentiment at that time. In 
connection with it, I said, "We are now far into the fifth 
year, since a policy was inaugurated with the avowed ob- 
ject and confident promise of putting an end to slavery 
agitation. Under the operation of the policy, that agita- 


tion has not only not ceased, but has constantly aug- 

I now say to you here that we are advanced still fur- 
ther into the sixth year since that policy of Judge Doug- 
las — that popular sovereignty of his, for quieting the 
slavery question — was made the national policy. Fifteen 
months more have been added since I uttered that senti- 
ment, and I call upon you, and all other right-minded 
men, to say whether that fifteen months have belied or 
corroborated my words. 

AVhile I am here upon this subject, I cannot but ex- 
press gratitude that this true view of this element of dis- 
cord among us — as I believe it is — is attracting more 
and more attention. I do not believe that Governor 
Seward uttered that sentiment because I had done so be- 
fore, but because he reflected upon this subject, and saw 
the truth of it. Nor do I believe, because Governor 
Seward or I uttered it, that Mr. Hickman, of Pennsyl- 
vania, in different language, since that time, has declared 
his belief in the utter antagonism which exists between 
the principles of liberty and slavery. You see we are 

Now, while I am speaking of Hickman, let me say, I 
know but little about him. I have never seen him, and 
know scarcely anything about the man ; but I will say 
this much of him : Of all the anti-Lecompton Democra- 
cy that have been brought to my notice, he alone has the 
true, genuine ring of the metal. And now, without in- 
dorsing anything else he has said, I will ask this audi- 
ence to give three cheers for Hickman. (The audience 
responded with three rousing cheers for Hickman.) 

Another point in the copy-right essay to which I would 
ask your attention, is rather a feature to be extracted 
from the whole thing, than from any express declaration 


of it at any point. It is a general feature of that docu- 
ment, and indeed, of all of Judge Douglas's discussions 
of this ciuestion, that the territories of the United States, 
and the states of this Union, are exactly alike — that 
there is no difference between them at all — that the Con- 
stitution applies to the territories precisely as it does to 
the states — and that the United States Government, under 
the Constitution, may not do in a state what it may not 
do in a territory, and what it must do in a state, it must 
do in a territory. Gentlemen, is that a true view of the 
case ? It is necessary for this squatter sovereignty ; but 
is it true ? 

Let us consider. "What docs it depend upon ? It 
depends altogether upon the proposition that the States 
must, without the interference of the General Govern- 
ment, do all those things that pertain excluslvelij to 
themselves — that are local in their nature, that have no 
connection with the General Government. After Judge 
Douglas has established this proposition, which nobody 
disputes or ever has disputed, he proceeds to assume, 
without proving it, that slavery is one of those little, 
unimportant, trivial matters which are of just about 
as much consequence as the question would be to me, 
whether my neighbor should raise horned cattle or plant 
tobacco ; that there is no moral question about it, but 
that it is altogether a matter of dollars and cents ; that 
when a new territory is opened for settlement, the first 
man who goes into it may plant there a thing which, 
like the Canada thistle or some other of those pests of 
the soil, can not be dug out by the millions of men 
who will come thereafter ; that it is one of those little 
things that is so trivial in its nature that it has no eifect 
upon anybody save the few men who first plant upon 
the soil ; that it is not a thing which in any way afi"ecta 


the family of communities composing these states, nor 
any way endangers the General Government. Judge 
Douglas ignores altogether the very well known fact, 
that we have never had a serious menace to our politi- 
cal existence, except it sprang from this thing, which 
he chooses to regard as only upon a par with onions and 

Turn it, and contemplate it in another view. He 
says, that according to his popular sovereignty, the Gen- 
eral Government may give to the territories governors, 
judges, marshals, secretaries, and all the other chief men 
to govern them, but they must not touch upon this 
other question. Why? The question of who shall be 
governor of a territory for a year or two, and pass 
away, without his track being left upon the soil, or an 
act which he did for good or for evil being left behind, 
is a question of vast national magnitude. It is so much 
opposed in its nature to locality, that the nation itself 
must decide it; while this other matter of planting 
slavery upon a soil — a thing which once planted can 
not be eradicated by the succeeding millions who have 
as much right there as the first comers, or if eradicated, 
not without infinite difficulty and a long struggle — he 
considers the power to prohibit it as one of these little, 
local, trivial things, that the nation ought not to say a 
word about; that it affects nobody save the few men who 
are there. 

Take these two things and consider them together; 
present the question of planting a state with the insti- 
tution of slavery by the side of a question of who shall 
be governor of Kansas for a year or two, and is there 
a man here — is there a man on earth — who would not 
say the governor question is the little one, and the 
slavery question is the great one? I ask any honest 


Democrat if the small, the local, and the trivial and 
temporary question is not, who shall be governor? 
While the durable, the important and the mischievous 
one is, shall this soil be planted with slavery? 

This is an idea, I suppose, which has arisen in Judge 
Douglas's mind from his peculiar structure. I suppose 
the institution of slavery really looks small to him. He 
is so put up by nature that a lash upon his back would 
hurt him, but a lash upon anybody else's back does 
not hurt him. That is the build of the man, and con- 
sequently he looks upon the matter of slavery in this 
unimportant light. 

Judge Douglas ought to remember when he is en- 
deavoring to force this policy upon the American people 
that while he is put up in that way a good many are 
not. He ought to remember that there was once in this 
country a man by the name of Thomas Jefierson, sup- 
posed to be a Democrat — a man whose principles and 
policy are not very prevalent among Democrats to-day, 
it is true ; but that man did not take exactly this view 
of the insignificance of the element of slavery which 
our friend Judge Douglas does. In contemplation of 
this thing, we alj know he was led to exclaim : " I 
tremble for my country when I remember that God is 
just!" We know how he looked upon it when he thus 
expressed himself There was danger to this country — • 
danger of the avenging justice of God in that little 
unimportant popular sovereignty question of Judge 
Douglas. He supposed there was a question of God's 
eternal justice wrapped up in the enslaving of any race 
of men, or any man, and that those who did so braved 
the arm of Jehovah — that when a nation thus dared 
the Almighty, every friend of that nation had cause 
to dread his wrath. Choose ye between Jefferson and 


Douglas as to what is the true view of this element 
among us. 

There is another little difficulty about this matter of 
treating the territories and states alike in all things, to 
which I ask your attention, and I shall leave this branch 
of the case. If there is no diflFerence between them, why 
not make the territories states at once? What is the 
reason that Kansas was not fit to come into the Union 
when it was organized into a territory, in Judge Doug- 
las's view? Can any of you tell any reason why it should 
not have come into the Union at once? They are fit, as 
he thinks, to decide upon the slavery question — the 
largest and most important with which they could pos- 
sibly deal — what could they do by coming into the 
Union that they are not fit to do, according to his view, 
by staying out of it? 0, they are not fit to sit in Con- 
gress and decide upon the rates of postage, or questions 
of ad valorem or specific duties on foreign goods, or live 
oak timber contracts; they are not fit to decide these 
vastly important matters, which are national in their 
import, but they are fit, "from the jump," to decide this 
little negro question. But, gentlemen, the case is too 
plain ; I occupy too much time on this head, and I pass 

Near the close of the copy-right essay, the Judge, I 
think, comes very near kicking his own fat into the fire. 
I did not think, when I commenced these remarks, that 
I would read from that article, but I now believe I will : 

"This exposition of the history of these measures, shows con- 
clusively that the authors of the Compromise Measures of 1850 
aud of the Kansas-Nebraska act of 1854, as well as the members 
of the Continental Congress of 1774, and the founders of our 
system of government subsequent to the Revolution, regarded the 
people of the territories and colonies as political communities, 


•which were entitleil to a free and exclusive power of legishitioa 
in their provisional Legislatures, where their representation could 
alone be preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal polity." 

When the judge saw that putting in the -word "slav- 
ery" would contradict his own history, ho put in what 
he knew would pass as synonymous with it: "internal 
polity." Whenever we find that in one of his speeches, 
the substitute is used in this manner; and I can tell 
you the reason. It would be too bald a contradiction to 
say slavery, but "internal polity" is a general phrase, 
which would pass in some quarters, and which he hopes 
■will pass with the reading community for the same 
thing : 

"This right pertains to the people collectively, as a law-abiding 
and peaceful community, and not in the isolated individuals who 
may wander upon the public domain in violation of the law. It 
can only be exercised where there are inhabitants sufBcient to 
constitute a government, and capable of performing its various 
functions and duties, a fact to be ascertained and determined 
by" — who do you think? Judge Douglas says, "By Congress!" 

"Whether the number shall be fixed at ten, fifteen, or twenty 
thousand inhabitants, does not affect the principle." 

Now I have only a few comments to make. Popular 
sovereignty, by his own words, does not pertain to the 
few persons who wander upon the public domain in 
violation of law. We have his words for that. When 
it docs pertain to them, is when they are suliicient to 
be formed into an organized political community, and 
he fixes the minimum for that at 10,000, and the max- 
imum at 20,000. Now I would like to know what is to 
be done with the 9,000? Are they all to be treated, 
until they are large enough to be organized into a po- 
litical community, as wanderers upon the public land. 


in violation of law? And if so treated and driven out, 
at what point of time vrould there ever be ten thousand? 
If they were not driven out, but remained there as tres- 
passers upon the public land in violation of the law, can 
they establish slavery there? No — the judge says pop- 
ular sovereignty don't pertain to them then. Can they 
exclude it then ? No, popular sovereignty don't pertain 
to them then. I would like to know, in the case covered 
by the essay, what condition the people of the territory 
are in before they reach the number of ten thousand? 

But the main point I wish to ask attention to is, that 
the question as to when they shall have reached a suffi- 
cient number to be formed into a regular organized com- 
munity, is to be decided " by Congress." Judge Douglas 
says so. Well, gentlemen, that is about all we want. No, 
that is all the Southerners want. That is what all those 
who are for slavery want. They do not want Congress 
to prohibit slavery from coming into the new territories, 
and they do not want popular sovereignty to hinder it; 
and as Congress is to say when they are ready to be or- 
ganized, all that the South has to do is to get Congress to 
hold off. Let Congress hold off until they are ready to 
be admitted as a state, and the South has all it wants in 
taking slavery into and planting it in all the territo- 
ries that we now have, or hereafter may have. In a 
word, the whole thing, at a dash of the pen, is at last 
put in the power of Congress ; for if they do not have 
this popular sovereignty until Congress organizes them, 
I ask if it at last does not come from Congress? If, at 
last, it amounts to anything at all, Congress gives it to 
them. I submit this rather for your reflection than for 
comment. After all that is said, at last, by a dash of 
the pen, everything that has gone before is undone, and 
he puts the whole question under the control of Con- 


gress. After fighting througli more than three hours, 
if you undertalce to read it, he at last places the whole 
matter under the control of that power which he had 
been contending against, and arrives at a result directly 
contrary to what he had been laboring to do. He at 
last leaves the whole matter to the control of Congress. 
There are two main objects, as I understand it, of this 
Harper's Magazine essay. One was to show, if possible, 
that the men of our Revolutionary times were in favor 
of his popular sovereignty ; and the other was to show 
that the Dred Scott decision had not entirely squelched 
out this popular sovereignty. I do not propose, in 
regard to this argument drawn from the history of for- 
mer times, to enter into a detailed examination of the 
historical statements he has made. I have the impres- 
sion that they are inaccurate in a great many instances. 
Sometimes in positive statement, but very much more 
inaccurate by the suppression of statements that really 
belong to the history. But I do not propose to affirm 
that this is so to any very great extent; or to enter into 
a very minute examination of his historical statements. 
I avoid doing so upon this principle — that if it were im- 
portant for me to pass out of this lot in the least period 
of time possible, and I came to that fence and saw by a 
calculation of my known strength and agility that I 
could clear it at a bound, it would be folly for me to 
stop and consider whether I could or not crawl through 
a crack. So I say of the whole history, contained in his 
essay, where he endeavored to link the men of the Rev- 
olution to popular sovereignty. It only requires an 
effort to leap out of it — a single bound to be entirely 
successful. If you read it over, you will find that he 
quotes here and there from documents of the Revolu- 
tionary times, tending to show that the people of the 


colonies were desirous of regulating their own concerns 
in their own way; that the British Government should 
not interfere; that at one time they struggled with the 
British Government to be permitted to exclude the Afri- 
can slave-trade ; if not directly, to be permitted to ex- 
clude it indirectly by taxation sufficient to discourage 
and destroy it. From these and many things of this 
sort, Judge Douglas argues that they were in favor of 
the people of our own territories excluding slavery if 
they wanted to, or planting it there if they wanted to, 
doing just as they pleased from the time they settled 
upon the territory. Now, however his history may 
apply, and whatever of his argument there may be that 
is sound and accurate or unsound and inaccurate, if 
we can find out what these men did themselves do 
upon this very question of slavery in the territories, 
does it not end the whole thing? If after all this labor 
and effort to show that the men of the Revolution were 
in favor of his popular sovereignty and his mode of 
dealing with slavery in the territories, we can show that 
these very men took hold of that subject, and dealt with 
it; we can see for ourselves liov} they dealt with it. It 
is not a matter of argument or inference, but we know 
what they thought about it. 

It is precisely upon that part of the history of the 
country, that one important omission is made by Judge 
Douglas. He selects parts of the history of the United 
States upon the subject of slavery, and treats it as the 
whole, omitting from his historical sketch the legislation 
of Congress in regard to the admission of Missouri, by 
which the Missouri Compromise was established, and slav- 
ery excluded from a country half as large as the present 
United States. All this is left out of his history, and 
in nowise alluded to by him, so far as I can remember, 


save once, when he makes a remark, that upon his prin- 
ciple the Supreme Court were authorized to pronounce 
a decision that the act called the Missouri Compromise 
was unconstitutional. All that history has been left out. 
But this part of the history of the country was not made 
by the men of the Revolution. 

There was another part of our political history made 
by the very men who were the actors in the Revolution, 
which has taken the name of the ordinance of '87. Let 
me bring that history to your attention. In 1784, I 
believe, this same Mr. Jefferson drew up an ordinance 
for the government of the country, upon which we now 
stand ; or rather, a frame or draft of an ordinance for the 
government of this country, here in Ohio, our neighbors 
in Indiana, us who live in Illinois, our neighbors in 
Wisconsin, and Michigan. In that ordinance, drawn 
up not only for the government of that territory, but for 
the territories south of the Ohio River, Mr. Jefferson ex- 
pressly provided for the prohibition of slavery. Judge 
Douglas says, and perhaps is right, that that provision 
was lost from that ordinance. I believe that is true. 
When the vote was taken upon it, a majority of all 
present in the Congress of the Confederation voted for 
it; but there were so many absentees that those voting 
for it did not make the clear majority necessary, and it 
was lost. But three years after that, the Congress of 
the Confederation were together again, and they adopted 
a new ordinance for the government of this Northwest 
Territory, not contemplating territory south of the river, 
for the states owning that territory had hitherto re- 
frained from giving it to the General Government; 
hence, they made the ordinance to apply only to what 
the Government owned. In that, the provision exclud- 
ing slavery was tnscrteJ and j)ossi'tZ unanimouslj/, or at 


any rate it passed and became a part of the law of the 
land. Under that ordinance we live. First here in Ohio 
you were a territory, then an enahling act was passed, 
authorizing you to form a Constitution and State Gov- 
ernment, provided it was republican and not in conflict 
with the ordinance of '87. When you framed your 
Constitution and presented it for admission, I think you 
will find the legislation upon the subject will show that, 
'Whereas you had formed a Constitution that was re- 
publican, and not in conflict with the Ordinance of '87," 
therefore, you were admitted upon equal footing with 
the original states. The same process in a few years was 
gone through with in Indiana, and so with Illinois, and 
the same substantially with Michigan and Wisconsin. 

Not only did that ordinance prevail, but it was con- 
stantly looked to whenever a step was taken by a new 
territory to become a state. Congress always turned 
their attention to it, and in all their movements upon 
this subject, they traced their course by that ordinance 
of '87. When they admitted new states, they advertised 
them of this ordinance as a part of the legislation of 
the country. They did so because they had traced the 
ordinance of '87 throughout the history of this coun- 
try. Begin with the men of the Revolution, and go 
down for sixty entire years, and until the last scrap of 
that territory comes into the Union in the form of the 
State of Wisconsin — everything was made to conform 
with the ordinance of '87, excluding slavery from that 
vast extent of country. 

I omitted to mention in the right place that the Con- 
stitution of the United States was in process of being 
framed when that ordinance was made by the Congress 
of the Confederation ; and one of the first acts of Con- 
gress itself, under the new Constitution itself, was to 


give force to that ordinance by putting power to carry 
it out in the hands of the new officers under the Con- 
stitution, in the place of the old ones, who had been 
legislated out of existence by the change in the Gov- 
ernment from the Confederation to the Constitution. Not 
only so, but I believe Indiana once or twice, if not Ohio, 
petitioned the General Government for the privilege of 
suspending that provision and allowing them to have 
slaves. A report made by Mr. Randolph, of Virginia, 
himself a slaveholder, was directly against it, and the 
action was to refuse them the privilege of violating the 
ordinance of '87. 

This period of history, which I have run over briefly, 
is, I presume, as familiar to most of this assembly as any 
other part of the history of our country. I suppose that 
few of my hearers are not as familiar with that part of 
history as I am, and I only mention it to recall your at- 
tention to it at this time. And hence I ask how extra- 
ordinary a thing it is that a man who has occupied a po- 
sition upon the floor of the Senate of the United States, 
who is now in his third term, and who looks to see the 
government of this whole country fall into his own hands, 
pretending to give a truthful and accurate history of the 
slavery question in this country, should so entirely ignore 
the whole of that portion of our history — the most im- 
portant of all. Is it not a most extraordinary spectacle, 
that a man should stand up and ask for any confidence 
in his statements, who sets out as he does with portions 
of history, calling upon the people to believe that it is a 
true and fair representation, when the leading part, and 
controlling feature, of the whole history is carefully sup- 
pressed ? 

But the mere leaving out is not the most remarkable 
feature of this most remarkable essay. His proposition 


is to establish that the leading men of the Revolution 
were for his great principle of non-intervention by the 
government in the question of slavery in the territories; 
while history shows that they decided in the cases ac- 
tually brought before them, in exactly the contrary way, 
and he knows it. Not only did they so decide at that 
time, but they stuck to it during sixty years, through 
thick and thin, as long as there was one of the revolution- 
ary heroes upon the stage of political action. Through 
their whole course, from first to last, they clung to free- 

And now he asks the community to believe that the 
men of the llevolution were in favor of his great princi- 
ple, when we have the naked history that they themselves 
dealt with this very subject-matter of his principle, and 
utterly repudiated his principle, acting upon a precisely 
contrary ground. It is as impudent and absurd as if a 
prosecuting attorney should stand up before a jury, and 
ask them to convict A as the murderer of B, while B was 
walking alive before them. 

I say, again, if Judge Douglas asserts that the men of 
the revolution acted upon principles by which, to be con- 
sistent with themselves, they ought to have adopted his 
popular sovereignty, then, upon a consideration of his 
own argument, he had a right to make you believe that 
they understood the principles of government, but mis- 
applied them — that he has arisen to enlighten the world 
as to the just application of this principle. He has a 
right to try to persuade you that he understands their 
principles better than they did, and, therefore, he will 
apply them now, not as they did, but as they ought to 
have done. He has a right to go before the community, 
and try to convince them of this ; but he has no right 
to attempt to impose upon any one the belief that these 


men themselves approved of bis great principle. There 
are two ways of establishing a proposition. One is by 
trying to demonstrate it upon reason; and the other 
is, to show that great men in former times have thouglit 
so and so, and thus to pass it by the weight of pure 

Now, if Judge Douglas will demonstrate somehow that 
this is popular sovereignty — the right of one man to 
make a slave of another, without any right in that other, 
or any one else to object — demonstrate it as Euclid demon- 
strated propositions — there is no objection. But when 
he comes forward, seeking to carry a principle by bring- 
ing to it the authority of men who themselves utterly re- 
pudiate that principle, I ask that he shall not be permit- 
ted to do it. 

I see, in the judge's speech here, a short sentence in 
these words : " Our fathers, when they formed this gov« 
ernment under which we live, understood this question 
just as well and even better than we do now." That ia 
true ; I stick to that. I will stand by Judge Douglas in 
that to the bitter end. 

And now, Judge Douglas, come and stand by me, and 
truthfully show how they acted, understanding it better 
than we do. All I ask of you, Judge Douglas, is to 
stick to the proposition that the men of the Revolution 
understood this subject better than we do now, and with 
that better understanding they acted letter than you are 
trying to act now. 

I wish to say something now in regard to the Dred 
Scott decision, as dealt with by Judge Douglas. In that 
" memorable debate " between Judge Douglas and my- 
self, last year, the judge thought fit to commence a pro- 
cess of catechising me, and at Freeport I answered his 
questions, and propounded some to him. Among others 


propounded to him was one that I have here now. The 
substance, as I remember it, is, " Can the people of a 
United States territory, under the Dred Scott decision, 
in any lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of 
the United States, exclude slavery from its limits, prior 
to the formation of a State Constitution ?" 

He answered that they could lawfully exclude slavery 
from the United States territories, notwithstanding the 
Dred Scott decision. There was something about that 
answer that has probably been a trouble to the judge 
ever since. 

The Dred Scott decision expressly gives every citizen 
of the United States a right to carry his slaves into the 
United States territories. And now there was some in- 
consistency in saying that the decision was right, and 
saying, too, that the people of the territory could law- 
fully drive slavery out again. When all the trash, the 
words, the collateral matter, was cleared away from it — 
all the chaff was fanned out of it, it was a bare absurd- 
ity — no less than that a thing may he lawfully driven away 
from lohere it has a laiofnl 7-ight to he. Clear it of all the 
verbiage, and that is the naked truth of his proposition 
— that a thing may be lawfully driven from the place 
where it has a lawful right to stay. 

Well, it was because the judge could n't help seeing 
this, that he has had so much trouble with it; and what 
I want to ask your especial attention to, just now, is to 
remind you, if you have not noticed the fact, that the 
judge does not any longer say that the people can ex- 
clude slavery. He does not say so in the copy-right 
essay ; he did not say so in the speech that he made 
here ; and, so far as I know, since his re-election to the 
Senate, he has never said, as he did at Frceport, that 
the people of the territories can exclude slavery. He 


desires that you, who wish the territories to remain free, 
should believe that he stands by that position, but he 
does not say it himself. He escapes, to some extent, 
the absurd position I have stated, by changing his lan- 
guage entirely. 

What he says now, is something different in language, 
and we will consider whether it is not different in sense, 
too. It is now that the Dred Scott decision, or rather 
the Constitution under that decision, does not carry 
slavery into the territories beyond the power of the peo- 
ple of the territories to control it as other property. He 
does not say the people can drive it out, but they can 
control it as other property. The language is different; 
we should consider whether the sense is different. Driv- 
ing a horse out of this lot is too plain a proposition to 
be mistaken about ; it is putting him on the other side 
of the fence. Or it might be a sort of exclusion of him 
from the lot if you were to kill him, and let the worms 
devour him ; but neither of these things is the same as 
" controlling him as other property." That would be to 
feed him, to pamper him, to ride him, to use and abuse 
him, to make the most money out of him " as other prop- 
erty;" but, please you, what do the men who are in favor 
of slavery want more than this ? What do they really 
want, other than that slavery, being in the territories, 
shall be controlled as other property ? 

If they want anything else, I do not comprehend it. 
I ask your attention to this — first, for the purpose of 
pointing out the change of ground the judge has made, 
and, in the second place, the importance of the change 
— that that change is not such as to give you gentlemen 
who want his popular sovereignty the power to exclude 
the institution or drive it out at all. I know the judge 
sometimes squints at the argument that in controlling it 


as other property, by unfriendly legislation, they may 
control it to death, as you might in the case of a horse, 
perhaps, feed him so lightly and ride him so much that 
he would die. But when you come to legislative control, 
there is something more to be attended to. I have no 
doubt, myself, that if the territories should undertake to 
control slave property as other property — that is, control 
it in such a way that it would be the most valuable as 
property, and make it bear its just proportion in the way 
of burdens as property — really deal with it as property 
■ — the Supreme Court of the United States will say, '-God 
speed you, and amen." 

But I undertake to give the opinion, at least, that if 
the territories attempt, by any direct legislation, to drive 
the man, with his slave, out of the territory, or to decide 
that his slave is free because of his being taken in there, 
or to tax him to such an extent that he cannot keep him 
there, the Supreme Court will unhesitatingly decide all 
such legislation unconstitutional, as long as that Su- 
preme Court is constructed as the Dred Scott Supreme 
Court is. The first two things they have already decided, 
except that there is a little quibble among the lawyers 
between the words dicta and decision. They have al- 
ready decided a negro can not be made free by territorial 

What is that Dred Scott decision ? Judge Douglas 
labors to show that it is one thing, while I think it is 
altogether different. It is a long opinion, but it is all 
embodied in this short statement: "The Constitution 
of the United States forbids Congress to deprive a man 
of his property, without due process of law; the right 
of property in slaves is distinctly and expressly affirmed 
in that Constitution ; therefore if Congress shall under- 
take to say that a man's slave is no longer his slave, 


■W'ben he crosses a certain line into a territory, that ig 
depriving him of his property without due process of 
law, and is unconstitutional."' There is the whole Dred 
Scott decision. They add that if Congress can not do 
so itself, Congress can not confer any power to do so, 
and hence any effort by the Territorial Legislature to 
do either of these things is absolutely decided against. 
It is a foregone conclusion by that court. 

Now, as to this indirect mode by "unfriendly legis- 
lation," all lawyers here will readily understand that 
such a proposition can not be tolerated for a moment, 
because a Legislature can not indirectly do that which 
it can not accomplish directly. Then I say any legis- 
lation to control this property, as property, for its benefit 
as property, would be hailed by this Dred Scott Supreme 
Court, and fully sustained ; but any legislation driving 
slave property out, or destroying it as property, directly 
or indirectly, will most assuredly, by that court, be held 

Judge Douglas says if the Constitution carries slavery 
into the territories, beyond the power of the people of 
the territories to control it as other property, then it fol- 
lows logically that every one who swears to support the 
Constitution of the United States, must give that sup- 
port to that property which it needs. And if the Con- 
stitution carries slavery into the territories, beyond the 
power of the people to control it as other property, thea 
it also carries it into the states, because the Constitution 
is the supreme law of the land. Now, gentlemen, if it 
were not for my excessive modesty I would say that I 
told that very thing to Judge Douglas quite a year ago. 
This argument is here in print, and if it were not for 
my modesty, as I said, I might call your attention to 
it. If you read it, you will find that I not only made 


that argument, but made it better than he has made it 

There is, however, this difference. I say now, and 
said then, there is no sort of question that the Supreme 
Court has decided that it is the right of the slaveholder 
to take his slave and hold him in the territory; and say- 
ing this, Judge Douglas himself admits the conclusion. 
He says if that is so, this consequence will follow; and 
because this consequence would follow, his argument is, 
the decision can not, therefore, be that way — " that 
would spoil my popular sovereignty, and it can not be 
possible that this great principle has been squelched out 
in this extraordinary way. It might be, if it were not 
for the extraordinary consequences of spoiling my hum- 

Another feature of the judge's argument about the 
Dred Scott case is, an effort to show that that decision 
deals altogether in declarations of negatives ; that the 
Constitution does not affirm anything as expounded by 
the Dred Scott decision, but it only declares a want of 
power — a total absence of power, in reference to the 
territories. It seems to be his purpose to make the 
whole of that decision to result in a mere negative decla- 
ration of a want of power in Congress to do anything in 
relation to this matter in the territories. I know the 
opinion of the judges states that there is a total absence 
of power; but that is, unfortunately, not all it states; 
for the judges add that the right of property in a slave 
is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution. 
It does not stop at saying that the right of property in 
a slave is recognized in the Constitution, is declared to 
exist somewhere in the Constitution, but says it is 
affirmed in the Constitution. Its language is equivalent 
to saying that it is embodied and so woven into that in- 


strunient that it can not be detached without breaking 
the Constitution itself. In a word, it is a part of the 

Douglas is singularly unfortunate in his eiFort to make 
out that decision to be altogether negative, when the 
express language at the A'ital part is that this is dis- 
tinctly affirmed in the Constitution. I think myself, 
and I repeat it here, that this decision does not merely 
carry slavery into the territories, but by its logical con- 
clusion it carries it into the states in which we live. 
One provision of that Constitution is, that it shall be 
the supreme law of the land — I do not quote the lan- 
guage — any Constitution or law of any state to the con- 
trary notwithstanding. This Dred Scott decision says 
that the right of property in a slave is affirmed in that 
Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, any 
State Constitution or law notwithstanding. Then I say 
that to destroy a thing which is distinctly affirmed and 
supported by the supreme law of the land, even by a 
State Constitution or law, is a violation of that supreme 
law, and there is no escape from it. In my judgment 
there is no avoiding that result, save that the American 
people shall see that Constitutions are better construed 
than our Constitution is construed in that decision. 
They must take care that it is more faithfully and truly 
carried out than it is there expounded. 

I must hasten to a conclusion. Near the beginning 
of my remarks, I said that this insidious Douglas popu- 
lar sovereignty is the measure that now threatens the 
purpose of the Republican party, to prevent slavery 
from being nationalized in the United States. I pro- 
pose to ask your attention for a little while to some 
propositions in affirmance of that statement. Take it 
just as it stands, and apply it as a principle; extend 


and apply that principle elsewhere, and consider "where 
it will lead you. I now put this proposition, that Judge 
Douglas's popular sovereignty applied will reopen the 
African slave-trade ; and I will demonstrate it by any 
variety of ways in which you can turn the subject or 
look at it. 

The judge says that the people of the territories have 
the right, by his principle, to have slaves, if they want 
them. Then I say that the people in Georgia have the 
right to buy slaves in Africa, if they want them, and I 
defy any man on earth to show any distinction between 
the two things — to show that the one is either more 
wicked or more unlawful ; to show, on original prin- 
ciples, that one is better or worse than the other; or to 
show by the Constitution, that one differs a whit from 
the other. He will tell me, doubtless, that there is no 
Constitutional provision against people taking slaves 
into the new territories, and I tell him that there is 
equally no Constitutional provision against buying slaves 
in Africa. He will tell you that a people, in the exercise 
of popular sovereignty, ought to do as they please about 
that thing, and have slaves if they want them; and I 
tell you that the people of Georgia are as much entitled 
to popular sovereignty and to buy slaves in Africa, if 
they want them, as the people of the territory are to 
have slaves if they want them. I ask any man, dealing 
honestly with himself, to point out a distinction. 

I have recently seen a letter of Judge Douglas's, in 
which, without stating that to be the object, he doubt- 
less endeavors to make a distinction between the two. 
He says he is unalterably opposed to the repeal of the 
laws against the African slave-trade. And why? He 
then seeks to give a reason that would not apply to his 
popular sovereignty in the territories. What is that 


reason? "The abolition of the African slave-trade is 
a compromise of the Constitution !" I deny it. There 
is no truth in the proposition that the abolition of the 
African slave-trade is a compromise of the Constitution. 
No man can put his finger on anything in the Consti- 
tution, or on the line of history, which shows it. It is 
a mere barren assertion, made simply for the purpose 
of getting up a distinction between the revival of the 
African slave-trade and his "great principle." 

At the time the Constitution of the United States was 
adopted, it was expected that the slave-ti-ade would be 
abolished. I should assert, and insist upon that, if 
Judge Douglas denied it. But I know that it was 
equally expected that slavery would be excluded from 
the territories, and I can show by history, that in regard 
to these two things, public opinion was exactly alike, 
while in regard to positive action, there was more done 
in the ordinance of '87 to resist the spread of slavery 
than was ever done to abolish the foreign slave-trade. 
Lest I be misunderstood, I say again, that at the time of 
the formation of the Constitution, public expectation was 
that the slave-trade would be abolished, but no more so 
than the spread of slavery in the territories should be 
restrained. They stand alike, except that in the ordi- 
nance of '87 there was a mark left by public opinion, 
showing that it was more committed against the spread 
of slavery in the territories than against the foreign 

Compromise ! What word of compromise was there 
about it? Why, the public sense was then in favor of 
the abolition of the slave-trade ; but there was, at the 
time, a very great commercial interest involved in it, and 
extensive capital in that branch of trade. There were, 
doubtless, the incipient stages of improvement in the 


South in the way of farming, dependent on the slave- 
trade, and they made a proposition to Congress to abol- 
ish the trade after allowing it twenty years, a sufficient 
time for the capital and commerce engaged in it to be 
transferred to other channels. They made no provision 
that it should be abolished in twenty years ; I do not 
doubt that they expected it would be ; but they mado 
no bargain about it. The public sentiment left no doubt 
in the minds of any that it would be done away. I re- 
peat, there is nothing in the history of those times in 
favor of that matter being a compromise of the Constitu- 
tion. It was the public expectation at the time, mani- 
fested in a thousand ways, that the spread of slavery 
should also be restricted. 

Then, I say, if this principle is established, that there 
is no wrong in slavery, and whoever wants it has a right 
to have it, is a matter of dollars and cents, a sort of 
question as to how they shall deal with brutes, that be- 
tween us and the negro here, there is no sort of question, 
but at the South the question is between the negro and 
the crocodile. That is all. It is a mere matter of poli- 
cy ; there is a perfect right according to interest to do 
just as you please — when this is done, where this doc- 
trine prevails, the miners and sappers will have formed 
public opinion for the slave-trade. They will be ready 
for Jeff. Davis, and Stephens, and other leaders of that 
company, to sound the bugle for the revival of the slave- 
trade, for the second Dred Scott decision, for the flood of 
slavery to be poured over the free states, while we shall 
be here tied down, and helpless, and run over like sheep. 

It is to be a part and parcel of this same idea, to say 
to men who want to adhere to the Democratic party, who 
have always belonged to that party, and are only looking 
about for some excuse to stick to it, but nevertheless hate 


slavery, that Douglas's popular sovereignty is as good a 
way as any to oppose slavery. They allow themselves to 
be persuaded easily in accordance with their previous 
dispositions, into this belief, that it is about as good a 
way of opposing slavery as any, and we can do that with- 
out straining our old party ties or breaking up old polit- 
ical associations. We can do so without being called 
negro-worshipers. We can do that without being sub- 
jected to the jibes and sneers that are so readily thrown 
out in place of argument where no argument can be 
found. So let us stick to this popular sovereignty — this 
insidious popular sovereignty. 

Now let me call your attention to one thing that has 
really happened, which shows this gradual and steady 
debauching of public opinion, this course of preparation 
for the revival of the slave-trade, for the territorial slave 
code, and the new Dred Scott decision that is to carry 
slavery into the free states. Did you ever, five years 
ago, hear of anybody in the world saying that the negro 
had no share in the Declaration of National Independ- 
ence ; that it did not mean negroes at all ; and when 
" all men " were spoken of, negroes were not included ? 

I am satisfied that, five years ago, that proposition was 
not put upon paper by any living being anywhere. I 
have been unable at any time, to find a man in an audi- 
ence who would declare that he had ever known of any- 
body saying so five years ago. But, last year, there was 
not a Douglas popular sovereign in Illinois who did not 
say it. Is there one in Ohio but declares his firm belief 
that the Declaration of Independence did not mean ne- 
groes at all? I do not know how this is; I have not 
been here much ; but I presume you are very much 
alike everywhere. Then I suppose that all now express 
the belief that the Declaration of Independence never 


did mean negroes. I call upon one of them to say that 
he said it five years ago. 

If you think that now, and did not think it then, the 
next thing that strikes me is to remark that there has 
been a change wrought in you, and a very significant 
change it is, being no less than changing the negro, in 
your estimation, from the rank of a man to that of a 
brute. They are taking him down, and placing him, 
when spoken of, among reptiles and crocodiles, as Judge 
Douglas himself expresses it. 

Is not this change wrought in your minds a very im- 
portant change? Public opinion in this country is every- 
thing. In a nation like ours, this popular sovereignty 
and squatter sovereignty have already wrought a change 
in the public mind to the extent I have stated. There 
is no man in this crowd who can contradict it. 

Now, if you are opposed to slavery hoaestly, as much 
as anybody, I ask you to note that fact, and the like of 
which is to follow, to be plastered on, layer after layer, 
until very soon you are prepared to deal with the negro 
everywhere as with the brute. If public sentiment has 
not been debauched already to this point, a new turn of 
the screw in that direction is all that is wanting ; and 
this is constantly being done by the teachers of this in- 
sidious popular sovereignty. You need but one or two 
turns further until your minds, now ripening under these 
teachings, will be ready for all these things, and you will 
receive and support, or submit to, the slave-trade, revived 
with all its horrors, a slave code enforced in our territo- 
ries, and a new Dred Scott decision to bring slavery up 
into the very heart of the free North. 

This, I must say, is but carrying out those words pro- 
phetically spoken by Mr. Clay, many, many years ago — I 
believe more than thirty years — when he told an audience 


that if tliey repress all tendencies to liberty and ultimate 
emancipation, they must go back to the era of our inde- 
pendence and muzzle the cannon which thundered its 
annual joyous return on the Fourth of July ; they must 
blow out the moral lights around us ; they must pene- 
trate the human soul, and eradicate the love of liberty ; 
but until they did these things, and others eloquently 
enumerated by him, they could not repress all tendencies 
to ultimate emancipation. 

I ask attention to the fact that in a pre-eminent degree 
these popular sovereigns are at this work ; blowing out 
the moral lights around us ; teaching that the negro is 
no longer a man, but a brute; that the Declaration has 
nothing to do with him; that he ranks with the crocodile 
and the reptile ; that man, with body and soul, is a mat- 
ter of dollars and cents. I suggest to this portion of the 
Ohio Rcpubliaans, or Democrats, if there be any present, 
the serious consideration of this fact, that there is now 
going on among you a steady process of debauching pub- 
lic opinion on this subject. With this, my friends, I bid 
you adieu. 




[From the Daily (Springfield) Illinoh Journal, of October 21, 1854.] 

On Monday, October 16, Senator Douglas, by appointment, ad- 
dressed a large audience at Peoria. When he closed, he was 
greeted with six hearty cheers, and the band in attendance 
played a stirring air. The crowd then began to call for Lin- 
coln, who, as Judge Douglas had announced, was, by agree- 
ment, to answer him. Mr. Lincoln then took the stand, and 
said : 

I DO not rise to speak now, if I can stipulate with the 
audience to meet me here at half-past six or at seven 
o'clock. It is now several minutes past five, and Judge 
Douglas has spoken over three hours. If you hear me 
at all, I wish you to hear me through. It will take nie 
as long as it has taken him. That will carry us beyond 
eight o'clock at night. Now every one of you who can 
remain that long, can just as well get his supper, meet 
me at seven, and remain one hour or two later. The 
judge has already informed you that he is to have an 
hour to reply to me. I doubt not but you have been a 
little surprised to learn that I have consented to give 
one of his high reputation and known ability this ad- 



vantage of me. Indeed, my consenting to it, thongh 
reluctant, was not wholly unselfish; for I suspected, if it 
were understood, that the judge was entirely done, you 
Democrats would leave and not hear me; but by giving 
him the close, I felt confident you would stay for the fun 
of hearing him skin me. 

[The audience signified their assent to the arrangement, 
and adjourned to seven o'clock P. M., at which time they 
reassembled, and Mr. Lincoln spoke substantially as fol- 
lows :] 

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, and the pro- 
priety of its restoration, constitute the subject of what I 
am about to say. 

As I desire to present my own connected view of this 
subject, my remarks will not be specifically an answer to 
Judge Douglas ; yet as I proceed, the main points he 
has presented will arise, and will receive such respectful 
attention as I may be able to give them. 

I wish further to say that I do not propose to question 
the patriotism, or to assail the motives of any man or 
class of men, but rather to confine myself strictly to the 
naked merits of the question. 

I also wish to be no less than national in all the posi- 
tions I may take, and whenever I take ground which 
others have thought, or may think, narrow, sectional, 
and dangerous to the Union, I hope to give a reason, 
which will appear sufiicient, at least to some, why I think 

And as this subject is no other than part and parcel 
of the larger general question of domestic slavery, I wish 
to MAKE and to keep the distinction between the exist- 
ing institution and the extension of it, so broad and so 


clear, that no honest man can misunderstand me, and no 
dishonest one successfully misrepresent me. 

In order to a clear understanding of what the Missouri 
Compromise is, a short history of the preceding kindred 
subjects will perhaps be proper. 

"When we established our independence, we did not 
own or claim the country to which this compromise ap- 
plies. Indeed, strictly speaking, the Confederacy then 
owned no country at all ; the states respectively owned 
the country within their limits, and some of them owned 
territory beyond their strict state limits. Virginia thus 
owned the Northwestern Territory — the country out of 
which the principal part of Ohio, all Indiana, all Illinois, 
all Michigan, and all Wisconsin, have since been formed. 
She also owned (perhaps within her then limits) what 
has since been formed into the State of Kentucky. 
North Carolina thus owned what is now the State of 
Tennessee; and South Carolina and Georgia owned, in 
separate parts, what are now Mississippi and Alabama. 
Connecticut, I think, owned the little remaining part of 
Ohio — being the same where they now send Giddings 
to Congress, and beat all creation at making cheese. 

These territories, together with the states ^themselves, 
constituted all the country over which the Confederacy 
then claimed any sort of jurisdiction. We were then 
living under the Articles of Confederation, which were 
superseded by the Constitution several years afterward. 
The question of ceding these territories to the General 
Government was set on foot. Mr. Jefferson — the author 
of the Declaration of Independence, and otherwise a 
chief actor in the Revolution ; then a delegate in Con- 
gress ; afterward, twice President; who was, is, and per- 
haps will continue to be, the most distinguished politi- 
cian of our history; a Virginian by birth and continued 


residence, and -withal a slaveholder — conceived the idea 
of taking that occasion to prevent slavery ever going 
into the Northwestern Territory. He prevailed on the 
Virginia Legislature to adopt his views, and to cede the 
territory, making the prohibition of slavery therein a 
condition of the deed. Congress accepted the cession 
■with the condition ; and in the first ordinance (which the 
acts of Congress were then called) for the government of 
the territory, provided that slavery should never be per- 
mitted therein. This is the famed " Ordinance of '87," 
so often spoken of. 

Thenceforward for sixty-one years, and until, in 1848, 
the last scrap of this territory came into the Union as 
the State of Wisconsin, all parties acted in quiet obedi- 
ence to this ordinance. It is now what Jefferson fore- 
saw and intended — the happy home of teeming millions 
of free, white, prosperous people, and no slave among them. 

Thus, with the author of the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, the policy of prohibiting slavery in new territory 
originated. Thus, away back of the Constitution, in the 
pure, fresh, free breath of the Kevolution, the State of 
Virginia and the National Congress put that policy in 
practice. Thus, through more than sixty of the best 
years of the llepublic, did that policy steadily work to 
its great and beneficent end. And thus, in those five 
states, and five millions of free, enterprising people, we 
have before us the rich fruits of this policy. 

But noiv, new light breaks upon us. Now Congress 
declares this ought never to have been, and the like of it 
must never be again. The sacred right of self-govern- 
ment is grossly violated by it. We even find some men, 
who drew their first breath, and every other breath of 

=" Mr. Lincoln authorizes tlio correction of the error into whicli the rejiort 
here falls, with regard to the proUibilioii being mado a cumlition of !ho deed. 
It was 110^ a condition. 


tlieir lives, under this very restriction, novr live in dread 
of absolute suffocation, if they should be restricted in the 
" sacred right" of taking slaves to Nebraska. That per- 
fect liberty they sigh for — the liberty of making slaves 
of other people — Jefferson never thought of; their own 
fathers never thought of; they never thought of them- 
selves, a year ago. How fortunate for them they did 
not sooner become sensible of their great misery ! 0, 
how difficult it is to treat with respect such assaults upon 
all vre have ever really held sacred. 

But to return to history. In 1803 we purchased what 
was then called Louisiana, of France. It included the 
present states of Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, and 
Iowa; also the territory of Minnesota, and the present 
bone of contention, Kansas and Nebraska. Slavery 
already existed among the French at New Orleans; and 
to some extent, at St. Louis. In 1812, Louisiana came 
into the Union as a slave state, without controversy. In 
1818 or '19, Missouri showed signs of a wish to come in 
with slavery. This was resisted by Northern members 
of Congress ; and thus began the first great slavery 
agitation in the nation. This controversy lasted several 
months, and became very angry and exciting ; the House 
of Representatives voting steadily for the prohibition of 
slavery in Missouri, and the Senate voting as steadily 
against it. Threats of breaking up the Union were 
freely made ; and the ablest public men of the day be- 
came seriously alarmed. At length a compromise was 
made, in which, as in all compromises, both sides yielded 
something. It was a law passed on the Cth day of March, 
1820, providing that Missouri might come into the Union 
iLrith slavery, but that in all the remaining part of the 
territory purchased of France, which lies north of thirty- 
six degrees and thirty minutes north latitude, slavery 
should never be permitted. This provision of law is the 


Missouri Compromise. In excluding slavery north of the 
line, the same language is employed as in the ordinance 
of '87. It directly applied to Iowa, Minnesota, and to 
the present bone of contention, Kansas and Nebraska. 
Whether there should or should not be slavery South of 
that line, nothing was said in the law. But Arkansas 
constituted the principal remaining part, south of the 
line; and it has since been admitted as a slave state, 
without serious controversy. More recently, Iowa, north 
of the line, came in as a free state, without controversy. 
Still later, Minnesota, north of the line, had a territorial 
organization without controversy. Texas, principally 
south of the line, and west of Arkansas, though origi- 
nally within the purchase from France, had, in 1819, 
been traded off to Spain, in our treaty for the acquisition 
of Florida. It had thus become a part of Mexico. Mex- 
ico revolutionized, and became independent of Spain. 
American citizens began settling rapidly with their slaves 
in the Southern part of Texas. Soon they revolution- 
ized against Mexico, and established an independent 
government of their own, adopting a Constitution, with 
slavery, strongly resembling the Constitutions of our 
slave states. By still another rapid move, Texas, claim- 
ing a boundary much further west than when we parted 
with her in 1819, was brought back to the United States, 
and admitted into the Union as a slave state. Then 
there was little or no settlement in the northern part 
of Texas, a considerable portion of which lay north of 
the Missouri line; and in the resolutions admitting her 
into the Union, the Missouri restriction was expressly 
extended westward across her territory. This was in 
1815, only nine years ago. 

Thus originated the Missouri Compromise ; and thus 
has it been respected down to 1815. And even four 


years later, in 1489, our distinguished senator, in a 
public address, held the following language in relatioa 
to it: 

"The Missouri Compromise had been in practical operation 
for about a quarter of a century, and had received the sanction 
and approbation of men of all parties in every section of tho 
Union. It had allayed all sectional jealousies and irritation.", 
growing out of this vexed question, and harmonized and tran- 
quilized the whole countrj'. It had given to Henry Clay, as its 
prominent champion, the proud soubriquet of the 'Great Pacifi- 
cator," and by that title, and for that service, his political friends 
had repeatedly appealed to the people to rally under his standard, 
as a Presidential candidate, as the man who had exhibited the 
patriotism and the power to suppress an unholy and treasonable 
agitation, and preserve the Union. He was not aware that any 
man, or any party from any section of the Union, had ever urged 
as an objection to Mr. Clay, that he was the great champion of 
the Missouri Compromise. On tlie contrary, the effort was made 
by the opponents of Mr. Clay, to prove that he was not entitled 
to the exclusive merit of that great patriotic measure ; and .that 
the honor was equally due to others, as well as to him, for 
securing its adoption — that it had its origin in the hearts of 
all patriotic men, who desired to preserve and perpetuate the 
blessings of our glorious Union — an origin akin to that of the 
Constitution of the United States, conceived in the same spirit 
of fraternal affection, and calculated to remove forever the only 
danger, which seemed to threaten, at some distant day, to sever 
the social bond of Union. All the evidences of public opinioa 
at that day seemed to indicate that this Compromise had beeu 
canonized in the hearts of the American people, as a sacred 
thing, which no ruthless hand would ever be reckless enougk 
to disturb." 

I do not read this extract to involve Judge Douglas 
in an inconsistency. If he afterward thought he had 
been wrong, it was right for him to change — I bring 
this forward merely to show the high estimate placed on 


the Missouri Compromise by all parties np to so late as 
the year 1849. 

But going back a little, in point of time. Our war 
with Mexico broke out in 184G. When Congress was 
about adjourning that session, President Polk asked 
them to place two millions of dollars under his control, 
to be used by him in the recess, if found practicable 
and expedient, in negotiating a treaty of peace with 
Mexico, and acquiring some part of her territory. A 
bill was duly gotten up for the purpose, and was pro- 
gressing swimmingly in the House of Eepresentatives, 
when a member by the name of David Wilmot, a Dem- 
ocrat from Pennsylvania, moved as an amendment, 
" Provided, that in any territory thus acquired, there 
shall never be slavery." 

This is the origin of the far-famed "Wilmot Proviso." 
It created a great flutter ; but it stuck like wax, was 
voted into the bill, and the bill passed with it through 
the House. The Senate, however, adjourned without 
final action on it, and so both appropriation and proviso 
were lost, for the time. The war continued, and at the 
next session the President renewed his request for the 
appropriation, enlarging the amount, I think, to three 
millions. Again came the proviso, and defeated the 
measure. Congress adjourned again, and the war went 
on. In December, 1847, the new Congress assembled. 
I was in the lower House that term. The "Wilmot 
Proviso," or the principle of it, was constantly coming 
up in some shape or other, and I think I may venture 
to say I voted for it at least forty times, during the 
short term I was there. The Senate, however, held it 
in check, and it never became a law. In the spring of 
1848 a treaty of peace was made with Mexico, by which 
we obtained that portion of her country which now con- 


stitutes the territories of New Mexico and Utah, and 
the present State of California. By this treaty the 
"Wilmot Proviso" was defeated, in so far as it was in- 
tended to be a condition of the acquisition of territory. 
Its friends, however, were still determined to find some 
way to restrain slavery from getting into the now 
country. This new acquisition lay directly west of our 
old purchase from France, and extended west to the 
Pacific Ocean — and was so situated that if the Missouri 
line should be extended straight west, the new country 
would be divided by such extended line, leaving some 
north and some south of it. On Judge Douglas's mo- 
tion, a bill, or provision of a bill, passed the Senate to 
so extend the Missouri line. The Proviso men in the 
House, including myself, voted it down, because, by im- 
plication, it gave up the southern part to slavery, while 
we were bent on having it all free. 

In the fall of 1848, the gold mines were discovered in 
California. This attracted people to it with unprece- 
dented rapidity, so that on, or soon after the meeting 
of the new Congress in December, 1849, she already had 
a population of nearly a hundred thousand, had called 
a convention, formed a State Constitution, excluding 
slavery, and was knocking for admission into the Union. 
The Proviso men, of course, were for letting her in, but 
the Senate, always true to the other side, would not con- 
sent to her admission. And there California stood, kept 
out of the Union, because she would not let slavery into 
her borders. Under all the circumstances, perhaps this 
■was not wrong. There were other points of dispute con- 
nected with the general question of slavery, which equal- 
ly needed adjustment. The South clamored for a more 
efficient fugitive slave law. The North clamored for the 
abolition of a peculiar species of slave-trade in the Dis- 


trict of Columbia, in connection -with -which, in view 
from the windows of the Capitol, a sort of negro livery- 
stable, where droves of negroes were collected, tempora- 
rily kept, and finally taken to Southern markets, pre- 
cisely like droves of horses, had been openly maintained 
for fifty years. Utah and New Mexico needed territo- 
rial governments; and whether slavery should or should 
not be prohibited within them was another question. 
The indefinite western boundary of Texas was to be 
settled. She was a slave state, and consequently the 
farther west the slavery men could push her boundary, 
the more slave country they secured ; and the farther 
east the slavery opponents could thrust the boundary 
back, the less slave ground was secured. Thus this was 
just as clearly a slavery question as any of the others. 

These points all needed adjustment; and they were 
all held up, perhaps wisely, to make them help to adjust 
one another. The Union now, as in 1820, was thought 
to be in danger; and devotion to the Union rightfully 
inclined men to yield somewhat, in points, where nothing 
else could have so inclined them. A compromise was 
finally effected. The South got their new fugitive slave 
law; and the North got California (by far the best 
part of our acquisition from Mexico) as a free state. 
The South got a provision that New Mexico and Utah, 
when admitted as states, may come in with or loilhout 
slavery as they may then choose ; and the North got the 
slave-trade abolished in the District of Columbia. The 
North got the western boundary of Texas thrown farther 
back eastward than the South desired; but, in turn, they 
gave Texas ten millions of dollars, with which to pay 
her old debts. This is the Compromise of 1850. 

Preceding the Presidential election of 1852, each of 
the great political parties, Pcniocrats and Whigs, met 


in convention, and adopted resolutions indorsing the 
Compromise of '50, as a "finality," a final settlement, 
so far as these parties could make it so, of all slavery 
agitation. Previous to this, in 1851, the Illinois Legis- 
lature had indorsed it. 

During this long period of time, Nebraska had re- 
mained substantially an uninhabited country, but now 
emigration to, and settlement within it began to take 
place. It is about one-third as large as the present 
United States, and its importance so long overlooked, 
begins to come into view. The restriction of slavery by 
the Missouri Compromise directly applies to it ; in fact, 
was first made, and has since been maintained expressly 
for it. In 1853, a bill to give it a territorial govern- 
ment passed the House of Representatives, and, in the 
hands of Judge Douglas, failed of passing only for want 
of time. This bill contained no repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise. Indeed, when it was assailed because it 
did contain such repeal. Judge Douglas defended it in 
its existing form. On January 4th, 1854, Judge Doug- 
las introduces a new bill to give Nebraska territorial, 
government. He accompanies this bill with a report, 
in which last, he expressly recommends that the Mis- 
souri Compromise shall neither be affirmed nor repealed. 

Before long the bill is so modified as to make two 
territories instead of one, calling the southern one 

Also, about a month after the introduction of the bill, 
on the judge's own motion, it is so amended as to 
declare the Missouri Compromise inoperative and void; 
and, substantially, that the people who go and settle 
there may establish slavery, or exclude it, as they may 
see fit. In this shape, the bill passed both branches of 
Concress and became a law. 


This is the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. The 
foregoing history may not be precisely accurate in every 
particular; but I am sure it is sufBciently so, for all the 
use I shall attempt to make of it ; and in it we have 
before us the chief material enabling us to judge cor- 
rectly whether the repeal of the Missouri Compromise 
is right or wrong. 

I think, and shall try to show, that it is wrong ; wrong 
in its direct effect, letting slavery into Kansas and Ne- 
braska, and wrong in its prospective principle, allowing 
it to spread to every other part of the wide world, where 
men can be found inclined to take it. 

This declared indifference, but as I must think, covert 
real zeal for the spread of slavery, I can not but hate. 
I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery 
itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican ex- 
ample of its just influence in the world; enables the 
enemies of free institutions, with plausibility to taunt us 
as hypocrites ; causes the real friends of freedom to 
doubt our sincerity ; and especially because it forces so 
many really good men among ourselves into an open 
war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty, 
criticising the Declaration of Independence, and insist- 
ing that there is no right principle of action but sclf- 
in tercst. 

Before proceeding, let me say I think I have no prej- 
udice against the Southern people. They are just 
what we would be in their situation. If slavery did not 
now exist among them, they would not introduce it. If 
it did now exist among us, we should not instantly give 
it up. This I believe of the masses North and South. 
Doubtless there are individuals, on both sides, who 
would not hold slaves under any circumstances, and 
others who would gladly introduce slavery anew, if it 


were out of existence. We know that some Southern 
men do free their slaves, go north, and become tip-top 
abolitionists ; while some Northern ones go south, and 
become most cruel slave-masters. 

When Southern people tell us they are no more respon- 
sible for the origin of slavery than we are, I acknowl- 
edge the fact. When it is said that the institution 
exists, and that it is very difficult to get rid of it in any 
satisfactory way, I can understand and appreciate the 
saying. I surely will not blame them for not doing 
what I should not know how to do myself If all 
earthly power were given me, I should not know what 
to do, as to the existing institution. My first impulse 
would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Libe- 
ria — to their own native land. But a moment's reflec- 
tion would convince me, that whatever of high hope 
(as I think there is) there may be in this in the long 
run, its sudden execution is impossible. If they were 
all landed there in a day, they would all perish in the 
next ten days, and there are not surplus shipping and 
surplus money enough to carry them there in many 
times ten days. What then ? Free them all, and keep 
them among us as underlings ? Is it quite certain that 
this betters their condition ? I think I would not hold 
one in slavery, at any rate; yet the point is not clear 
enough for me to denounce people upon. What next? 
Free them, and make them politically and socially our 
equals? My own feelings will not admit of this; and 
if mine would, we well know that those of the great 
mass of white people will not. Whether this feeling 
accords with justice and sound judgment, is not the sole 
question, if indeed, it is any part of it. A universal 
feeling, whether well or ill-founded, can not be safely 
disregarded. We can not, then, make them equals. It 


does seem to me that systems of gradual emancipation 
might be adopted; but for their tardiness in this, I will 
not undertake to judge our brethren of the South. 

When they remind us of their constitutional rights, 
I acknowledge them, not grudgingly, but fully and 
fairly; and I would give them any legislation for the 
reclaiming of their fugitives, which should not in its 
stringency be more likely to carry a free man into slav- 
ery, than our ordinary criminal laws are to hang an 
innocent one. 

But all this, to my judgment, furnishes no more ex- 
cuse for permitting slavery to go into our own free ter- 
ritory, than it would for reviving the African slave- 
trade by law. The law which forbids the bringing of 
slaves from Africa, and that which has so long forbid- 
den the taking of them into Nebraska, can hardly be 
distinguished on any moral principle ; and the repeal of 
the former could find quite as plausible excuses as that 
of the latter. 

The arguments by which the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise is sought to be justified, are these: 

First. That the Nebraska country needed a territorial 

Second. That in various ways, the public had repudi- 
ated that Compromise, and demanded the repeal, and 
therefore should not now complain of it. 

And, lastly. That the repeal establishes a principle 
which is intrinsically right. 

I will attempt an answer to each of them in its turn. 

First, then. If that country was in need of a territo- 
rial organization, could it not have had it as well with- 
out as with the repeal ? Iowa and Minnesota, to both 
of which the Missouri restriction applied, had, without 
its repeal, each in succession, territorial organizations. 


And even the year before, a bill for Nebraska itself, 
was within an ace of passing, without the repealing 
clause; and this in the hands of the same men who are 
now the champions of repeal. Why no necessity then 
for the repeal ? But still later, when this very bill was 
first brought in, it contained no repeal. But, say they, 
because the people had demanded, or rather commanded 
the repeal, the repeal was to accompany the organiza- 
tion, whenever that should occur. 

Now, I deny that the public ever demanded any such 
thing — ever repudiated the Missouri Compromise — ever 
commanded its repeal. I deny it, and call for the proof. 
It is not contended, I believe^ that any such command 
has ever been given in express terms. It is only said 
that it was done in princijjle. The support of the Wil- 
mot Proviso is the first fact mentioned, to prove that 
the Missouri restriction was repudiated in- principle, and 
the second is, the refusal to extend the Missouri line 
over the country acquired from Mexico. These are 
near enough alike to be treated together. The one was 
to exclude the chances of slavery from the whole new 
acquisition by the lump, and the other was to reject a 
division of it, by which one half was to be given up to 
those chances. Now, whether this was a repudiation of 
the Missouri line, in princijjle, depends upon whether 
the Missouri law contained any princijyle requiring the 
line to be extended over the country acquired from 
Mexico, I contend it did not. I insist that it con- 
tained no general principle, but that it was, in every 
sense, specific. That its terms limit it to the country 
purchased from France, is undenied and undeniable. It 
could have no principle beyond the intention of those 
who made it. They did not intend to extend the line to 
country which they did not own. If they intended to 


extend it, iu the event of acquiring additional territory, 
why did they not say so? It was just as easy to say, 
that ''in all the country west of the Mississippi which 
we now own or may hereafter acqiiur, there shall never 
be slavery," as to say what they did say ; and they 
would have said it, if they had meant it. An intention 
to extend the law is not only not mentioned in the law, 
hut is not mentioned in any cotemporaneous history. 
Both the law itself and the history of the times are a 
blank as to any principle of extension ; and by neither 
the known rules for construing statutes and contracts, 
nor by common sense, can any such principle be in- 

Another fact showing the specific character of the 
Missouri law — showing that it intended no more than it 
expressed ; showing that the line was not intended as a 
universal dividing line between free and slave territory, 
present and prospective, north of which slavery could 
never go — is the fact that, by that very law, Missouri 
came in as a slave state, north of the line. If that law 
contained any prospective ^Jr^Vzc/j^Ze, the whole law must 
be looked to in order to ascertain what the principle was. 
And by this rule, the South could fairly contend that 
inasmuch as they got one slave state north of the line 
at the inception of the law, they have the right to have 
another given them north of it occasionally, now and 
then, in the indefinite westward extension of the line. 
This demonstrates the absurdity of attempting to deduce 
a prospective principle from the Missouri Compromise 

When we voted for the Wilmot Proviso, we were vot- 
ing to keep slavery out of the whole Mexican acquisi- 
tion; and little did we think we were thereby voting to 
let it into Nebraska, lying several hundred miles distant. 


When we voted against extending the Missouri line, little 
did we think we were voting to destroy the old line, then 
of near thirty years' standing. 

To argue that we thus repudiated the Missouri Com- 
promise is no less absurd than it would be to argue that 
because we have so far forborne to acquire Cuba, we have 
thereby, in priaciph, repudiated our former acquisitions, 
and determined to throw them out of the Union. No 
less absurd than it would be to say that, because I may 
have refused to build an addition to my house, I thereby 
have decided to destroy the existing house ! And if I 
catch you setting fire to my house, you will turn upon 
me, and say I instructed you to do it ! 

The most conclusive argument, however, that, while 
voting for the Wilmot Proviso, and while voting against 
the EXTENSION of the Missouri line, we never thought of 
disturbing the original Missouri Compromise, is found in 
the fact that there was then, and still is, an unorganized 
tract of fine country, nearly as large as the State of Mis- 
souri, lying immediately West of Arkansas, and South 
of the Missouri Compromise line ; and that we never 
attempted to prohibit slavery as to it. I wish particular 
attention to this. It adjoins the original Missouri Com- 
promise line by its Northern boundary; and consequently 
is part of the country into which, by implication, slavery 
was permitted to go by that Compromise. There it has 
lain open ever since, and there it still lies ; and yet no 
efi"ort has been made at any time to wrest it from the 
South. In all our struggles to prohibit slavery within 
our Mexican acquisitions, we never so much as lifted a 
finger to prohibit it as to this tract. Is not this entirely 
conclusive that, at all times, we have held the Missouri 
Compromise as a sacred thing, even when against our- 
selves as well as when for us 'i 


Senator Douglas sometimes says the Missouri line it- 
self, was, in principle, only an extension of the line of the 
ordinance of '87 — that is to say, an extension of the 
Ohio river. I think this is weak enough on its face. I 
will remark, however, that, as a glance at the map will 
show, the Missouri line is a long way farther South 
than the Ohio, and that if our Senator, in proposing his 
extension, had stuck to the principle of jogging south- 
ward, perhaps it might not have been voted down so 

But next it is said that the Compromises of '50, and 
the ratification of them by both political parties in '52, 
established a neio principle, which required the repeal of 
the Missouri Compromise. This, again, I deny. I deny 
it, and demand the proof. I have already stated fully 
what the Compromises of '50 are. The particular part 
of those measures from which the virtual repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise is sought to be inferred, (for it is 
admitted they contain nothing about it, in express terms.) 
is the provision in the Utah and New Mexico laws, which 
permits them, when they seek admission into the Union 
as states, to come in with or without slavery, as they shall 
then see fit. Now I insist this provision was made for 
Utah and New Mexico, and for no other place whatever. 
It had no more direct reference to Nebraska than it had 
to the territories of the moon. But, say they, it had 
reference to Nebraska, in ptrinciple. Let us see. The 
North consented to this provision, not because they con- 
sidered it right in itself, but because they were compen- 
sated — paid for it. 

They, at the same time, got California into the Union 
as a free state. This was far the best part of all they 
had struggled for by the Wilmot Proviso. They also 
got the area of slavery somewhat narrowed in the settle- 


ment of the boundary of Texas. Also, ttey got the 
slave-trade abolished in the District of Columbia. 

For all these desirable objects, the North could afford 
to yield something ; and they did yield to the South the 
Utah and New Mexico provision. I do not mean that 
.the whole North, or even a majority, yielded, when the 
law passed ; but enough yielded, when added to the vote 
of the South, to carry the measure. Now can it be pre- 
tended that i\iQ prina'jtle of this arrangement requires us 
to permit the same provision to be applied to Nebraska, 
without any equivalent at all ? Give us another free state; 
press the boundary of Texas still further back ; give us 
another step toward the destruction of slavery in the 
District, and you present us a similar case. But ask us 
not to repeat, for nothing, what you paid for in the first 
instance. If you wish the thing again, pay again. That 
is the principle of the Compromises of '50, if indeed they 
had any principles beyond their specific terms — it was the 
system of equivalents. 

Again, if Congress, at that time, intended that all fu- 
ture territories should, when admitted as states, come in 
with or without slavery, at their own option, why did it not 
say so ? With such an universal provision, all know the 
bills could not have passed. Did they, then — could they 
— establish a -principle contrary to their own intention ? 
Still further ; if they intended to establish the principle 
that wherever Congress had control, it should be left to 
the people to do as they thought fit with slavery, why 
did they not authorize the people of the District of 
Columbia, at their option, to abolish slavery within their 
limits ? 

I personally know that this has not been left undone 
because it was unthought of It was frequently spoken of 
by members of Congress, and by citizens of Washington, 


six years ago ; and I heard no one express a doubt that 
a system of gradual emancipation, with compensation to 
owners, would meet the approbation of a large majority 
of the white people of the District. But without the 
action of Congress they could say nothing ; and Congress 
said "No." In the measures of 1850, Congress had the 
subject of slavery in the District expressly on hand. If 
they were then establishing the. principle of allowing the 
people to do as they please with slavery, why did they 
not apply the principle to that people ? 

Again, it is claimed that by the Resolutions of the 
Illinois Legislature, passed in 1851, the repeal of the 
Missouri Compromise was demanded. This I deny also. 
Whatever may be worked out by a criticism of the lan- 
guage of those resolutions, the people have never un- 
derstood them as being any more than an indorsement 
of the Compromises of 1850 ; and a release of our Sena- 
tors from voting for the Wilmot Proviso. The whole 
people are living witnesses, that this only was their view. 
Finally, it is asked, " If we did not mean to apply the 
Utah and New Mexico provision to all future territories, 
what did we mean when we, in 1852, indorsed the Com- 
promises of 1850?" 

For myself, I can answer this question most easily. 
I meant not to ask a repeal or modification of the fugi- 
tive slave law. I meant not to ask for the abolition of 
slavery in the District of Columbia. I meant not to 
resist the admission of Utah and New Mexico, even 
should they ask to come in as slave states. I meant 
nothing about additional territories, because, as I un- 
derstood, we then had no territory whose character as to 
slavery was not already settled. As to Nebraska, I 
regarded its character as being fixed, by the ^Missouri 
Compromise, for thirty years — as unalterably fixed as 


that of my own home in Illinois. As to new acquisitions, 
I said, "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." 
When we make new acquisitions, we will, as heretofore, 
try to manage them somehow. That is my answer ; that 
is what I meant and said; and I appeal to the people to 
say each for himself, whether that was not also the uni- 
versal meaning of the free states. 

And now, in turn, let me ask a few questions. If, 
by any or all these matters, the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise was commanded, why was not the command 
sooner obeyed? Why was the repeal omitted in the 
Nebraska bill of 1853? Why was it omitted in the 
original bill of 1854? Why, in the accompanying re- 
port, was such a repeal characterized as a departure from 
the course pursued in 1850? And its continued omis- 
sion recommended? 

I am aware Judge Douglas now argues that the sub- 
sequent express repeal is no substantial alteration of the 
bill. This argument seems wonderful to me. It is as 
if one should argue that white and black are not differ- 
ent. He admits, however, that there is a literal change 
in the bill, and that he made the change in deference 
to other Senators, who would not support the bill with- 
out. This proves that those other Senators thought the 
change a substantial one, and that the judge thought 
their opinions worth deferring to. His own opinions, 
therefore, seem not to rest on a very firm basis, even in 
his own mind ; and I suppose the world believes, and 
will continue to believe, that precisely on the substance 
of that change this whole agitation has arisen. 

I conclude, then, that the public never demanded the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise. 

I now come to consider whether the repeal, with its 
avowed principles, is intrinsically right. I insist that 


if. is not. Take the particular case. A controversy had 
aii.seu between the advocates and opponents of slavery, 
ill relation to its establishment within tlie country we 
had purchased of France. The southern, and then best 
part of the purchase, was already in as a slave state. 
Tlie controversy was settled by also letting Missouri in 
as a slave state; but with the agreement that within all 
the remaining part of the purchase, north of a certain 
line, there should never be slavery. As to what was to 
be done with the remaining part south of the line noth- 
ing was said ; but perhaps the fair implication was, that 
it should come in with slavery, if it should so choose. 
The southern part, except a portion heretofore men- 
tioned, afterward did come in with slavery, as the State 
of Arkansas. All these many years, since 1820, the 
northern part had remained a wilderness. At length, 
settlements began in it also. In due course, Iowa came 
in as a free state, and Minnesota was given a territorial 
government, without removing the slavery restriction, 
lunally, the sole remaining part, north of the line — 
Kansas and Nebraska — was to be organized ; and it is 
proposed, and carried, to blot out the old dividing line 
of thirty-four years' standing, and to open the whole of 
that country to the introduction of slavery. Now this, 
to my mind, is manifestly unjust. After an angry and 
dangerous controversy, the parties made friends by di- 
viding the bone of contention. The one party first 
appropriates her own share, beyond all power to be 
disturbed in the possession of it, and then seizes the 
share of the other party. It is as if two starving men 
had divided their only loaf; the one had hastily swal- 
lowed his half, and then grabbed the other's half just 
as ho was putting it to his mouth. 

Let me here drop the main argument, to notice what 


I consider rather an inferior matter. It is argued tliat 
slavery will not go to Kansas and Nebraska, in any event. 
This is a palliation — a lullahy. I have some hope that 
it will not ; but let us not be too confident. As to cli- 
mate, a glance at the map shows that there are five slave 
states — Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and 
Missouri, and also the District of Columbia, all north 
of the Missouri Compromise line. The census returns 
of 1850, show that, within these, there are eight hundred 
and sixty-seven thousand two hundred and seventy-six 
slaves — being more than one-fourth of all the slaves in 
the nation. 

It is not climate, then, that will keep slavery out of 
these territories. Is there anything in the peculiar na- 
ture of the country? Missouri adjoins these territories 
by her entire western boundary, and slavery is already 
within every one of her western counties. I have even 
heard it said that there are more slaves in proportion to 
whites in the northwestern county of Missouri, than with- 
in any other county in the state. Slavery pressed entirely 
up to the old western boundary of the state, and when, 
rather recently, a part of that boundary at the north- 
west was moved out a little farther west, slavery fol- 
lowed on quite up to the new line. Now when the re- 
striction is removed, what is to prevent it from going 
still farther ? Climate will not — no peculiarity of the 
country will — nothing in nature will. Will the disposi- 
tion of the people prevent it? Those nearest the scene 
are all in favor of the extension. The Yankees, who are 
opposed to it, may be most numerous ; but, in military 
phrase, the battle-field is too far from their base of oper- 

But it is said, there now is no law in Nebraska on the 
subject of slavery, and that, in such case, taking a slave 


there operates his freedom. That is good book law, but 
is not the rule of actual practice. Wherever slavery is 
it has been first introduced without law. The oldest 
laws we find concerning it, are not laws introducing it, 
but regulating it as an already existing thing. A white 
man takes his slave to Nebraska now. Who will inform 
the, negro that he is free? Who will take him before 
court to test the question of his freedom ? In ignorance 
of his legal emancipation, he is kept chopping, splitting, 
and plowing. Others are brought and move on in the 
same track. At last, if ever the time for voting comes on 
the question of slavery, the institution already, in fact, 
exists in the country, and can not well be removed. The 
fact of its presence, and the difficulty of its removal, will 
carry the vote in its favor. Keep it out until a vote is 
taken, and a vote in favor of it can not be got in any 
population of forty thousand on earth, who have been 
drawn together by the ordinary motives of emigration 
and settlement. To get slaves into the territory simul- 
taneously with the whites, in the incipient stages of set- 
tlement, is the precise stake played for, and won, in this 
Nebraska measure. 

The question is asked us : " If slaves will go in, not- 
withstanding the general principle of law liberates them, 
"why would they not equally go in against positive stat- 
ute law — go in, even if the Missouri restriction were 
maintained ! " I answer, because it takes a much bolder 
man to venture in with his property in the latter case than 
in the former; because the positive Congressional enact- 
ment is known to, and respected by all, or nearly all ; 
whereas the negative principle that no law is free law, ia 
not much known except among lawyers. We have some 
experience of this practical difference. In spite of the 
ordinance of '87, a few negroes were brought into Illi- 


nois, and held in a state of quasi slavery, not enougli, 
however, to carry a vote of the people in favor of the 
institution, when they carae to form a Constitution, But, 
in the adjoining Missouri country, where there was no 
ordinance of '87 — was no restriction — they were carried 
ten times, nay, a hundred times, as fast, and actually 
made a slave state. This is fact — naked fact. 

Another luUabi/ argument is, that taking slaves to 
new countries does not increase their number — does not 
make any one slave who otherwise would be free. There 
is some truth in this, and I am glad of it; but it is not 
wholly true. The African slave-trade is not yet effectu- 
ally suppressed ; and if we make a reasonable deduction 
for the white people among us who are foreigners, and 
the descendants of foreigners, arriving here since 1808, 
we shall find the increase of the black population out- 
running that of the white, to an extent unaccountable, 
except by supposing that some of them, too, have been 
coming from Africa. If this be so, the opening of new 
countries to the institution increases the demand for, 
and augments the price of slaves, and so does, in fact, 
make slaves of freemen, by causing them to be brought 
from Africa and sold into bondage. 

But however this may be, we know the opening of 
new countries to slavery tends to the perpetuation of 
the institution, and so does keep men in slavery who 
would otherwise be free. This result we do not feel 
like favoring, and we are under no legal obligation to 
suppress our feelings in this respect. 

Equal justice to the South, it is said, requires us to 
consent to the extension of slavery to new countries. 
That is to say, inasmuch as you do not object to my tak- 
king my hog to Nebraska, therefore I must not object 
to you taking your slave. Now, I admit that this is per- 


fectly logical, if there is no difference between hogg and 
negroes. But while you thus require me to deny the 
humanity of the negro, I wish to ask whether you of 
the South, yourselves, have ever been willing to do as 
much ? It is kindly provided, that of all those who 
come into the world, only a small percentage are natural 
tyrants. That percentage is no larger in the slave states 
than in the free. The great majority South, as well as 
North, have human sympathies, of which they can no 
more divest themselves, than they can of their sensibil- 
ity to physical pain. These sympathies in the bosoms 
of the Southern people manifest, in many ways, their 
sense of the wrong of slavery, and their consciousness 
that, after all, there is humanity in the negro. If they 
deny this, let me address them a few plain questions. 
In 1820, you joined the North, almost unanimously, in 
declaring the African slave-trade piracy, and in annex- 
ing to it the punishment of death. Why did you do 
this? If you did not feel that it was wrong, why did 
you join in providing that men should be hung for it? 
The practice was no more than bringing wild negroes 
from Africa to sell to such as would buy them. But 
you never thought of hanging men for catching and 
selling wild horses, wild buffaloes, or wild bears. 

Again : you have among you a sneaking individual 
of the class of native tyrants, known as the " Slave- 
Dealer." He watches your necessities, and crawls up 
to buy your slave, at a speculating price. If you can 
not help it, you sell to him; but if you can help it, you 
drive him from your door. You despise him utterly. 
You do not recognize him as a friend, or even as an 
honest man. Your children must not play with his ; 
they may rollick freely with the little negroes, but not 
with the "slave-dealer's" children. If you are obliged 


to deal with him, you try to get through the job, with- 
out so much as touching him. It is common with you to 
join hands with the men you meet ; but with the slave- 
dealer you avoid the ceremony — instinctively shrinking 
from the snaky contact. If he grows rich and retires 
from business, you still remember him, and still keep 
up the ban of non-intercourse upon him and his family. 
Now, why is this? You do not so treat the man who 
deals in corn, cattle, or tobacco. 

And yet again : There are in the United States and 
territories, including the District of Columbia, 433,643 
free blacks. At $500 per head, they are worth over 
two hundred millions of dollars. How comes this vast 
amount of property to be running about, without owners? 
We do not see free horses, or free cattle, running at 
large. How is this? All these free blacks are the de- 
scendants of slaves, or have been slaves themselves ; 
and they would be slaves now, but for soMETHlNa which 
has operated on their white owners, inducing them at 
vast pecuniary sacrifices to liberate them. "What is that 
SOMETHING? Is there any mistaking it? In all these 
cases, it is your sense of justice and human sympathy, 
continually telling you that the poor negro has some 
natural right to himself — that those who deny it, and 
make mere merchandise of him, deserve kickings, con- 
tempt, and death. 

And now, why will you ask us to deny the humanity 
of the slave, and estimate him as only the equal of the 
hog? Why ask us to do what you will not do your- 
selves? Why ask us to do for nothing what two hundred 
millions of dollars could not induce you to do? 

But one great argument in the support of the repeal 
of the Missouri Compromise is still to come. That 
argument is " the sacred right of self-government." It 


seems our distinguished Senator has found great diffi- 
culty in getting his antagonists, even in the Senate, to 
meet him fairly on this argument. Some poet has said: 

" Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.'' 

At the hazard of being thought one of the fools of this 
quotation, I meet that argument — I rush in — I take that 
bull by the horns. 

I trust I understand and truly estimate the right of 
self-government. My faith in the proposition that each 
man should do precisely as he pleases with all which is 
exclusively his own, lies at the foundation of the sense 
of justice there is in me. I extend the principle to 
communities of men, as well as to individuals. I so 
extend it, because it is politically wise, as well as natu- 
rally just; politically wise in saving us from broils about 
matters which do not concern us. Here, or at Wash- 
ington, I would not trouble myself with the oyster laws 
of Virginia, or the cranberry laws of Indiana. 

The doctrine of self-government is right — absolutely 
and eternally right — but it has no just application as 
here attempted. Or perhaps I should rather say that 
whether it has such just application, depends upon 
whether a negro is not or is a man. If he is not a man, 
in that case he who is a man, may, as a matter of self- 
government, do just what he pleases with him. But if 
the negro is a man, is it not to that extent a total de- 
struction of self-government to say that he too shall 
not govern himself f When the white man governs him- 
self, that is self-government ; but when he governs him- 
self, and also governs another man, that is more than 
self-government — that is despotism. If the negro is a 
man, why, then, my ancient faith teaches me that " all 
men are created equal ;" and that there can be no moral 


rigtt in connection with one man's making a slave of 

Judge Douglas frequently, with bitter irony and sar- 
casm, paraphrases our argument by saying : " The white 
people of Nebraska are good enough to govern them- 
selves, hut they are not good enough to govern a few miser- 
able negroes .'" 

Well, I doubt not that the people of Nebraska are, 
and will continue to be as good as the average of people 
elsewhere. I do not say the contrary. What I do say 
is, that no man is good enough to govern another man, 
without that othei-'s consent. I say this is the leading 
principle, the sheet-anchor of American Kepublicanism. 
Our Declaration of Independence says : 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men are 
created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with cer- 
tain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and 
the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, govern- 
ments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers 


I have quoted so much at this time merely to show 
that, according to our ancient faith, the just powers of 
governments are derived from the consent of the gov- 
erned. Now, the relation of master and slave is p)-o tanto 
a total violation of their principle. The master not only 
governs the slave without his consent, but he governs 
him by a set of rules altogether diiferent from those 
which he prescribes for himself. Allow all the gov- 
erned an equal voice in the government; and that, and 
that only, is self-government. 

Let it not be said I am contending for the establish- 
ment of political and social equality between the whites 
and blacks. I have already said the contrary. I am 


not now combating the argument of necessity, arising 
from the fact that the blacks are already among us; but 
I am combating what is set up as moral argument for 
allowing them to be taken where they have never yet 
been — arguing against the extension of a bad thing, 
which, where it already exists, we must of necessity 
manage as we best can. 

In support of his application of the doctrine of self- 
government. Senator Douglas has sought to bring to his 
aid the opinions and examples of our Revolutionary 
fathers. I am glad he has done this. I love the senti- 
ments of those old-time men, and shall be most happy 
to abide by their opinions. He shows us that when it 
was in contemplation for the colonies to break off from 
Great Britain, and set up a new government for them- 
selves, several of the states instructed their delegates to 
go for the measure, provided each state should be 
allowed to regulate its domestic concerns in its 
own way. I do not quote ; but this in substance. 
This was right. I see nothing objectionable in it. I 
also think it probable that it had some reference to the 
existence of slavery among them. I will not deny that 
it had. But had it any reference to the carrying of 
slavery into new countries? That is the question, and 
we will let the fathers themselves answer it. 

This same generation of men, and mostly the same 
individuals of the generation who declared this princi- 
ple, who declared independence, who fought the war of 
the Revolution through, who afterward made the Consti- 
tution under which we still live — these same men passed 
the ordinance of '87, declaring that slavery should never 
go to the Northwest Territory. I have no doubt Judge 
Douglas thinks they were very inconsistent in this. It 
is a question of discrimination between them and him. 


But there is not an inch of ground left for his claiming 
that their opinions, their example, their authority, are on 
his side in this controversy. 

Again, is not Nebraska, while a territory, a part of 
us? Do we not own the country? And if we sur- 
render the control of it, do we not surrender the right 
of self-government? It is part of ourselves? If you 
say we shall not control it, because it is only part, the 
same is true of every other part ; and when all the parts 
are gone, what has become of the whole? "What is then 
left of us ? What use for the General Government, when 
there is nothing left for it to govern ? 

But you say this question should be left to the people 
of Nebraska, because they are more particularly inter- 
ested. If this be the rule, you must leave it to each 
individual to say for himself whether he will have 
slaves. What better moral right have thirty-one citizens 
of Nebraska to say, that the thirty-second shall not 
hold slaves, than the people of the thirty-one states have 
to say that slavery shall not go into the thirty-second 
state at all ? 

But if it is a sacred right for the people of Nebraska 
to take and hold slaves there, it is equally their sacred 
right to buy them where they can buy them cheapest; 
and that, undoubtedly, will be on the coast of Africa, 
provided you will consent not to hang them for going 
there to buy them.-' You must remove this restriction, 
too, from the sacred right of self-government. I am 
aware, you say, that taking slaves from the States to 
Nebraska, does not make slaves of freemen ; but the 
African slave-trader can say just as much. He does not 
catch free negroes and bring them here. He finds 
them already slaves in the hands of their black captors, 
and he honestly buys them at the rate of about a red 


cotton handkerchief a head. This is very cheap and it 
is a great abridgment of the sacred right of self-govern- 
ment to hang men for engaging in this profitable trade. 

Another important objection to this application of the 
right of self-government, is, that it enables the first few 
to deprive the succeeding many of a free exercise of the 
right of self-government. The first few may get slavery 
IN, and the subsequent many can not easily get it out. 
How common is the remark now in the slave states : 
" If we were only clear of our slaves, how much better 
it would be for us." They are actually deprived of the 
privilege of governing themselves as they would, by the 
action of a very few in the beginning. The same thing 
was true of the whole nation at the time our Constitu- 
tion was formed. 

Whether slavery shall go into Nebraska, or other new 
territories, is not a matter of exclusive concern to the 
people who may go there. The whole nation is inter- 
ested that the best use shall be made of these territories. 
We want them for the homes of free white people. This 
they can not be, to any considerable extent, if slavery 
shall be planted within them. Slave states are places 
for poor white people to remove from ; not to remove 
TO. New free states are the places for poor people to go 
to, and better their condition. For this use the nation 
needs these territories. 

Still further ; there are constitutional relations between 
the slave and free states, which are degrading to the 
latter. We are under legal obligations to catch and 
return their runaway slaves to them, a sort of dirty, dis. 
agreeable job which I believe, as a general rule, the 
slaveholders will not perform for one another. Then 
again, in the control of the government — the manage- 
ment of the partnership afiairs — they have greatly tho 


advantage of us. By the Constitution each state has 
two Senators, each has a number of Representatives, in 
proportion to the number of its people, and each has 
,1 number of Presidential electors, equal to the whole 
number of its Senators and Representatives together. 
But in ascertaining the number of the people for this 
purpose, five slaves are counted as being equal to three 
■whites. The slaves do not vote ; they are only counted 
and so used, as to swell the influence of the white peo- 
ple's votes. The practical efi^ect of this is more aptly 
shown by a comparison of the states of South Carolina 
and Maine. South Carolina has six Representatives, and 
so has Maine; South Carolina has eight Presidential 
electors, and so has Maine. This is precise equality so 
far ; and of course they are equal in Senators, each 
having two. Thus in the control of the government, 
the two states are equals precisely. But how are they in 
the number of their white people ? Maine has 581,813, 
while South Carolina has 274,567 ; Maine has twice as 
many as South Carolina, and 32,679 over. Thus, each 
white man in South Carolina is more than the double 
of any man in Maine. This is all because South Caro- 
lina, besides her free people, has 384,984 slaves. The 
South Carolinian has precisely the same advantage over 
the white man in every other free state, as well as in 
Maine. He is more than the double of any one of us in 
this crowd. The same advantage, but not to the same 
extent, is held by all the citizens of the slave states, over 
those of the free ; and it is an absolute truth without an 
exception, that there is no voter in any slave state, but 
who has more legal power in the government than any 
voter in any free state. There is no instance of exact 
equality ; and the disadvantage is against us the whole 
chapter through. This principle in the aggregate, gives 


the slave states in the present Congress, twenty addi- 
tional representatives, being seven more than the whole 
majority by which they passed the Nebraska bill. 

Now all this is manifestly unfair; yet I do not men- 
tion it to complain of it, in so far as it is already settled. 
It is in the Constitution, and I do not for that cause, 
or any other cause, propose to destroy, or alter, or disre- 
gard the Constitution. I stand to it, fairly, fully, and 

But when I am told I must leave it altogether to 
OTHER PEOPLE to say whether new partners are to be 
bred up and brought into the firm, on the same degrad- 
ing terms against me, I respectfully demur. I insist 
that whether I shall be a whole man, or only the half of 
one, in comparison with others, is a question in which I 
am somewhat concerned ; and one which no other man 
can have a sacred right of deciding for me. If I am 
wrong in this — if it renlly be a sacred right of self-gov- 
ernment, in the man who shall go to Nebraska, to decide 
whether he will be the equal of me or the double of 
me, then, after he shall have exercised that right, and 
thereby shall have reduced me to a still smaller fraction 
of a man than I already am, I should like for some gen- 
tleman, deeply skilled in the mysteries of sacred rights, 
to provide himself with a microscope, and peep about, 
and find out, if he can, what has become of my sacred 
rights! They will surely be too small for detection with 
the naked eye. 

Finally, I insist that if there is ANYTHixr, which it is 
the duty of the whole people to never intrust to any 
hands but their own, that thing is the preservation and 
perpetuity of their own liberties and institutions. And 
if they shall think, as I do, that the extension of slavery 
endangers them, more than any or all other causes, how 


recreant to themselves if they submit the question, and 
with it the fate of their country, to a mere handful of 
men, bent only on temporary self-interest. If this ques- 
tion of slavery extension were an insignificant one — one 
having no power to do harm — it might be shuffled aside 
in this way ; but being, as it is, the great Behemoth of 
danger, shall the strong gripe of the nation be loosened 
upon him, to intrust him to the hands of such feeble 
keepers ? 

I have done with this mighty argument of self-govern- 
ment. Go, sacred thing ! Go, in peace. 

But Nebraska is urged as a great Union-saving meas- 
ure. Well, I, too, go for saving the Union. Much as I 
hate slavery, I would consent to the extension of it rather 
than see the Union dissolved, just as I would consent to 
any great evil to avoid a greater one. But when I go 
to Union-saving, I must believe, at least, that the means 
I employ have some adaptation to the end. To my mind, 
Nebraska has no such adaptation. 

"It hath no relish of salvation in it." 

It is an aggravation, rather, of the only one thing 
which ever endangers the Union. When it came upon 
us, all was peace and quiet. The nation was looking to 
the forming of new bonds of union, and a long course 
of peace and prosperity seemed to lie before us. In the 
whole range of possibility, there scarcely appears to me 
to have been anything out of which the slavery agitation 
could have been revived, except the very project of re- 
pealing the Missouri Compromise. Every inch of terri- 
tory we owned, already had a definite settlement of the 
slavery question, by which all parties were pledged to 
abide. Indeed, there was no uninhabited country on the 
continent which we could acquire ; if we except some 


extreme nortliern regions which are -wholly out of the 

In this state of aflPairs, the Genius of Discord himself 
could scarcely have invented a way of again getting us 
by the ears, but by turning back, and destroying the 
peace measures of the past. The councils of that Genius 
seem to have prevailed ; the Missouri Compromise was 
repealed; and here we are, in the midst of a new slavery 
agitation, such, I think, as we have never seen before 
Who is responsible for this ? Is it those who resist tho 
measure ; or those who, causelessly, brought it forward, 
and pressed it through, having reason to know, and, in 
fact, knowing it must and would be so resisted? It coula 
not but be expected by its author, that it would be looked 
upon as a measure for the extension of slavery, aggrava- 
ted by a gross breach of faith. 

Argue as you will, and long as you will, this is the 
naked front and aspect of the measure. And in thi3 
aspect, it could not but produce agitation. Slavery la 
founded in the selfishness of man's nature — opposition 
to it, in his love of justice. These principles are an 
eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so 
fiercely as slavery extension brings them, shocks, and 
throes, and convulsions must ceaselessly follow. Re- 
peal the Missouri Compromise — repeal all compromise — 
repeal the Declaration of Independence — repeal all past 
history — you still can not repeal human nature. It still 
will be the abundance of man's heart that slavery exten- 
sion is wrong ; and out of the abundance of his heart 
his mouth will continue to speak. 

The structure, too, of the Nebraska bill is very pecu- 
liar. The people are to decide the question of slavery 
for themselves ; but when they are to decide, or how 
they are to decide, or whether when the question is once 


decided, it is to remain so, or is to be subject to an indef- 
inite succession of new trials, the law does not saj. Is 
it to be decided by the first dozen settlers who arrive 
there? or is it to await the arrival of a hundred? Is 
it to be decided by a vote of the people ? or a vote of 
the Legislature? or, indeed, by a vote of any sort? To 
these questions, the law gives no answer. There is a 
mystery about this; for when a member proposed to give 
the Legislature express authority to exclude slavery, it 
was hooted down by the friends of the bill. This fact is 
worth remembering. Some Yankees, in the East, are 
sending emigrants to Nebraska, to exclude slavery from 
it ; and, so far as I can judge, they expect the question 
to be decided by voting in some way or other. But the 
Missourians are awake too. They are within a stone's 
throw of the contested ground. They hold meetings, 
and pass resolutions, in which not the slightest allusion 
to voting is made. They resolve that slavery already 
exists in the territory ; that more shall go there ; that 
they, remaining in Missouri, will protect it ; and that 
Abolitionists shall be hung or driven away. Through 
all this, bowie-knives and six-shooters are seen plainly 
enough; but never a glimpse of the ballot-box. 

And, really, what is to be the result of this ? Each 
party within, having numerous and determined backers 
WITHOUT, is it not probable that the contest will come to 
blows and bloodshed? Could there be a more apt inven- 
tion to bring about collision and violence, on the slavery 
question, than this Nebraska project is? I do not charge 
or believe that such was intended by Congress ; but if 
they had literally formed a ring, and placed champions 
within it to fight out the controversy, the fight could be 
no more likely to come ofi" than it is. And if this fight 
should begin, is it likely to take a very peaceful Union- 


saving turn ? "Will not the first drop of blood, so shed, 
be the real knell of the Union ? 

The Missouri Compromise ought to be restored. For 
the sake of the Union, it ought to be restored. We ought 
to elect a House of Representatives -which will vote its 
restoration. If, by any means, we omit to do this, what 
follows ? Slavery may or may not be established in Ne- 
braska. But whether it be or not, we shall have repu- 
diated — discarded from the councils of the nation — the 
SPIRIT of COMPROMISE ; for who, after this, will ever trust 
in a national compromise? The spirit of mutual conces- 
sion — that spirit which first gave us the Constitution, and 
which has thrice saved the Union — we shall have stran- 
gled and cast from us forever. And what shall we have in 
lieu of it? The South, flushed with triumph and tempted 
to excesses; the North, betrayed as they believe, brooding 
on wrong and burning for revenge. One side will pro- 
voke, the other resent. The one will taunt, the other 
defy ; one aggresses, the other retaliates. Already a few 
in the North defy all Constitutional restraints, resist the 
execution of the fugitive slave law, and even menace tho 
institution of slavery in the states where it exists. Al- 
ready a few in the South claim the Constitutional right 
to take to and hold slaves in the free states — demand 
the revival of the slave-trade — and demand a treaty with 
Great Britain, by which fugitive slaves may be reclaimed 
from Canada. As yet they are but few on either side. 
It is a grave question for the lovers of the Union, 
whether the final destruction of the Missouri Compro- 
mise, and with it the spirit of all compromise, will or 
will not embolden and embitter each of these, and fatally 
increases the number of both. 

But restore the compromise, and what then ? AYe 
thereby restore the national faith, the national confi- 


dence, the national feeling of brotherhood. We thereby 
reinstate the spirit of concession and compromise — that 
spirit which has never failed us in past perils, and which 
may be safely trusted for all the future. The South 
ought to join in doing this. The peace of the nation is 
as dear to them as to us. In memories of the past and 
hopes of the future, they share as largely as we. It 
would be, on their part, a great act — great in its spirit, 
and great in its eflfect. It would be worth to the nation 
a hundred years' purchase of peace and prosperity. And 
what of sacrifice would they make ? They only surrender 
to us what they gave us for a consideration long, long 
ago ; what they have not now asked for, struggled, or 
cared for ; what has been thrust upon them, not less to 
their own astonishment than to ours. 

But it is said we can not restore it; that though we 
elect every member of the lower House, the Senate is 
still against us. It is quite true that, of the Senators 
who passed the Nebraska bill, a majority of the whole 
Senate will retain their seats in spite of the elections of 
this and the nest year. But if, at these elections, their 
several constituencies shall clearly express their will 
against Nebraska, will these Senators disregard their 
will? Will they neither obey, nor make room for those 
who will ? 

But even if we fail to technically restore the compro- 
mise, it is still a great point to carry a popular vote in 
favor of the restoration. The moral weight of such a 
vote can not be estimated too highly. The authors of 
Nebraska are not at all satisfied with the destruction of 
the compromise — an indorsement of this principle they 
proclaim to be the great object. With them, Nebraska 
alone is a small matter — to establish a principle for fu- 
ture USE is what they particularly desire. 


That future use is to be the planting of slavery wherever 
in the wide world local and unorganized opposition can 
not prevent it. Now, if you wish to give them this in- 
dorsement, if you wish to establish this principle, do so. 
I shall regret it, but it is your right. On the contrary, 
if you are opposed to the principle — intend to give it no 
such indorsement — let no wheedling, no sophistry, divert 
you from throwing a direct vote against it. 

Some men, mostly Whigs, who condemn the repeal of 
the Missouri Compromise, nevertheless hesitate to go for 
its restoration, lest they be thrown in company with the 
Abolitionist. AVill they allow me, as an old Whig, to 
tell them, good-humoredly, that I think this is very silly? 
Stand with anybody that stands RIGHT. Stand with him 
while he is right, and part with him when he goes 
wrong. Stand with the Abolitionist in restoring the 
Missouri Compromise, and stand against him when he 
attempts to repeal the fugitive slave law. In the latter 
case you stand with the Southern disunionist. What of 
that? you are still right. In both cases you are right. 
In both cases you oppose the dangerous extremes. In 
both you stand on middle ground, and hold the ship 
level and steady. In both you are national, and nothing 
less than national. This is the good old Whig ground. 
To desert such ground because of any company, is to be 
less than a Whig — less than a man — less than an Amer- 

I particularly object to the new position which the 
avowed principle of this Nebraska law gives to slavery 
in the body politic. I object to it because it assumes that 
there can be moral right, in the enslaving of one man 
by another. I object to it as a dangerous dalliance for 
a free people — a sad evidence that, feeling prosperity, 
we forget right — that liberty, as a principle, wc have 


ceased to revere. I object to it, because the fathers of 
the republic eschewed and rejected it. The argument 
of " necessity," was the only argument they ever ad- 
mitted in favor of slavery ; and so far, and so far only, 
as it carried them did they ever go. They found the in- 
stitution existing among us, which they could not help, 
and they cast blame upon the British king for having 
permitted its introduction. Before the Constitution 
they prohibited its introduction into the Northwestern 
Territory, the only country we owned then free from it. 
At the framing and adoption of the Constitution, they 
forebore to so much as mention the word " slave," or 
" slavery," in the whole instrument. In the provision 
for the recovery of fugitives, the slave is spoken of as a 
iting the abolition of the African slave-trade for twenty 
years, that trade is spoken of as " The migration or im- 
portation of such persons as any of the states NOW EXIST- 
ING shall think proper to admit," etc. These are the 
only provisions alluding to slavery. Thus the thing is 
hid away in the Constitution, just as an afflicted man 
hides away a wen or cancer, which he dares not cut out 
at once, lest he bleed to death; with the promise, never- 
theless, that the cutting may begin at the end of a cer- 
tain time. Less than this our fathers could not do; 
and MORE they would not do. Necessity drove them so 
far, and further they would not go. But this is not all. 
The earliest Congress under the Constitution took the 
same view of slavery. They hedged and hemmed it in 
to the narrowest limits of necessity. 

In 1794, they prohibited an out-going slave-trade — 
that is, the taking of slaves from the United States to 

In 1798, they prohibited the bringing of slaves from 


Africa INTO the Mississippi Territory — this territory then 
comprising what are now the states of Mississippi and 
Alabama. This was ten years before they had the 
authority to do the same thing as to the states existing 
at the adoption of the Constitution. 

In 1800, they prohibited American citizens from 
trading in slaves between foreign countries, as, for in- 
stance, from Africa to Brazil. 

In 1803, they passed a law in aid of one or two slave 
state laws, in restraint of the internal slave-trade. 

In 1807, in apparent hot haste, they passed the law 
nearly a year in advance, to take effect the first day of 
1808 — the very first day the Constitution would per- 
mit — prohibiting the African slave-trade by heavy pecu- 
niary and corporal penalties. 

In 1820, finding these provisions ineffectual, they 
declared the slave-trade piracy, and annexed to it the 
extreme penalty of death. While all this was passing 
in the General Government, five or six of the original 
slave states had adopted systems of gradual emancipa- 
tion ; by which the institution was rapidly becoming 
extinct within these limits. 

Thus we see the plain, unmistakable spirit of that age, 
toward slavery, was hostility to the principle, and toler- 
ation ONLY BY necessity. 

But now it is to be transformed into a " sacred right." 
Nebraska brings it forth, places it on the high road to 
extension and perpetuity; and with a pat on its back, 
says to it, " Go, and God speed you." Henceforth it is 
to be the chief jewel of the nation — the very figure-head 
of the ship of state. Little by little, but steadily as 
man's march to the grave, we have been giving up the 
OLD for the NEW faith. Near eighty years ago we began 
by declaring that all men are created equal ; but now 


from that beginning we have run down to the other 
declaration, that for some men to enslave others is a 
" sacred right of self-government." These principles 
can not stand together. They are as opposite as God 
and Mammon ; and whoever holds to the one must de- 
spise the other. When Pettit, in connection with his 
support of the Nebraska bill, called the Declaration of 
Independence "a self-evident lie," he only did what con- 
sistency and candor require all other Nebraska men to 
do. Of the forty odd Nebraska Senators who sat present 
and heard him, no one rebuked him. Nor am I apprised 
that any Nebraska newspaper, or any Nebraska orator, 
in the whole nation, has ever yet rebuked him. If this 
had been said among Marion's men. Southerners though 
they were, what M'ould have become of the man who said 
it? If this had been said to the men who captured 
Andre, the man who said it would probably have been 
hung sooner than Andre was. If it had been said in 
old Independence Hall, seventy-eight years ago, the very 
door-keeper would have throttled the man, and thrust 
him into the street. 

Let no one be deceived. The spirit of seventy-six 
and the spirit of Nebraska are utter antagonisms; and 
the former is being rapidly displaced by the latter. 

Fellow-countrymen : Americans, South as well as North, 
shall we make no eifort to arrest this? Already the liber- 
al party throughout the world express the apprehension 
" that the one retrograde institution in America is under- 
mining the principles of progress, and fatally violating 
the noblest political system the world ever saw." This 
is not the taunt of enemies, but the warning of friends. 
Is it quite safe to disregard it — to despise it? Is there 
no danger to liberty itself, in discarding the earliest 
practice, and first precept of our ancient faith ? In our 


greedy chase to make profit of the negro, let us beware 
lest we "cancel and tear to pieces" even the white man's 
charter of freedom. 

Our republican robe is soiled, and trailed in the dust. 
Let us re-purify it. Let us turn and wash it white, ia 
the spirit, if not the blood, of the Revolution. Let us 
turn slavery from its claims of "moral right" back upon 
its existing legal rights, and its arguments of " neces- 
sity." Let us return it to the position our fathers gavo 
it, and there let it rest in peace. Let us readopt the 
Declaration of Independence, and with it the practices 
and policy which harmonize with it. Let North and 
South — let all Americans — let all lovers of liberty ever}''- 
where — ^join in the great and good work. If we do this, 
we shall not only have saved the Union, but we shall 
have so saved it as to make, and to keep it, forever 
worthy of the saving. We shall have so saved it, that 
the succeeding millions of free happy people, the world 
over, shall rise up and call us blessed, to the latest 

At Springfield, twelve days ago, where I had spoken 
substantially as I have here. Judge Douglas replied to 
me — and as he is to reply to me here, I shall attempt to 
anticipate him, by noticing some of the points he made 
there. He commenced by stating I had assumed all the 
way through that the principle of the Nebraska bill would 
have the eff"ect of extending slavery. He denied that 
this was INTENDED Or that this effect would follow. 

I will not reopen the argument upon this point. That 
such WAS the intention, the world believed at the start, 
and will continue to believe. This was the counte- 
nance of the thing; and both friends and enemies in- 
stantly recognized it as such. That countenance can 
not now be changed by argument. You can as easily 


argue the color out of the negro's skin. Like the " bloody 
hand," you may wash it, and wash it, the red witness of 
guilt still sticks, and stares horribly at you. 

Next he says, Congressional intervention never pre- 
vented slavery anywhere — that it did not prevent it in 
the Northwestern Territory, nor in Illinois — that, in fact, 
Illinois came into the Union as a slave state — that the 
principle of the Nebraska bill expelled it from Illinois, 
from several old states, from everywhere. 

Now this is mere quibbling all the way through. If 
the ordinance of '87 did not keep slavery out of the 
Northwest Territory, how happens it that the northwest 
shore of the Ohio Eiver is entirely free from it, while 
the southeast shore, less than a mile distant, along nearly 
the whole length of the river, is entirely covered with it? 

If that ordinance did not keep it out of Illinois, what 
was it that made the difference between Illinois and Mis- 
souri? They lie side by side, the Mississippi river only 
dividing them; while their early settlements were within 
the same latitude. Between 1810 and 1820, the number 
of slaves in Missouri increased 7,211 ; while in Illinois, 
in the same ten years, they decreased 51. This appears 
by the census returns. During nearly all of that tea 
years, both were territories — not states. 

During this time, the ordinance forbade slavery to go 
into Illinois ; and nothing forbade it to go into Mis- 
souri. It DID go into Missouri, and did not go into Illi- 
nois. That is the fact. Can any one doubt as to the 
reason of it ? 

But, he says, Illinois came into the Union as a slave 
state. Silence, perhaps, would be the best answer to this 
flat contradiction of the known history of the country. 
\yhat are the facts upon which this bold assertion is 
based ? 


When "we first acqnirecl the country, as far back as 
1787, there were some slaves ■within it, held by the 
French inhabitants of Kaskaskia. The territorial legis- 
lation admitted a few negroes from the slave states, as 
indentured servants. One year after the adoption of 
the first State Constitution, the whole number of them 
was — what do you think? Just 117 — while the aggre- 
gate free population was 55,094 — about 470 to 1. Upon 
this state of facts, the people framed their Constitution, 
prohibiting the further introduction of slavery, with a 
sort of guarantee to the owners of the few indentured 
servants, giving freedom to their children to be born 
thereafter, and making no mention whatever of any sup- 
posed slave for life. Out of this small matter, the judge 
manufactures his argument that Illinois came into the 
Union as a slave state. Let the facts be the answer to 
the argument. 

The principles of the Nebraska bill, he says, expelled 
slavery from Illinois. The principle of that bill first 
planted it here — that is, it first came because there was 
no law to prevent it — first came before we owned the 
country; and finding it here, and having the ordinance 
of '87 to prevent its increasing, our people struggled 
along, and finally got rid of it as best they could. 

]Jut the principle of the Nebraska bill abolished slav- 
ery in several of the old states. Well, it is true that 
several of the old states, in the last quarter of the last 
century, did adopt systems of gradual emancipation, by 
which the institution has finally become extinct Mithin 
their limits ; but it may or may not be true that the 
principle of the Nebraska bill was the cause that led to 
the adoption of these measures. It is now more than 
fifty years since the last of these states adopted its sys- 
tem of emancipation. 


If the Nebraska bill is the real author of the benevo- 
lent works, it is rather deplorable that it has for so long 
a time ceased working altogether. Is there not some 
reason to suspect that it was the principle of the Revo- 
lution, and not the principle of the Nebraska bill, that 
led to emancipation in these old states? Leave it to the 
people of those old emancipating states, and I am quite 
certain they will decide that neither that nor any other 
good thing ever did or ever will come of the Nebraska 

In the course of my main argument, Judge Douglas 
interrupted me to say that the principle of the Nebraska 
bill was very old ; that it originated when God made 
man, and placed good and evil before him, allowing him 
to choose for himself, being responsible for the choice he 
should make. At the time, I thought this was merely 
playful ; and I answered it accordingly. But in his re- 
ply to me, he renewed it as a serious argument. In 
seriousness, then, the facts of this proposition are not 
true as stated. God did not place good and evil before 
man, telling him to make his choice. On the contrary, 
he did tell him there was one tree, of the fruit of which 
he should not eat, upon pain of certain death. I should 
scarcely wish so strong a prohibition against slavery in 

But this argument strikes me as not a little remarka- 
ble in another particular — in its strong resemblance to 
the old argument for the " Divine right of kings." By 
the latter, the king is to do just as he pleases with his 
white subjects, being responsible to God alone. By the 
former, the white man is to do just as he pleases with 
his black slaves, being responsible to God alone. The 
two things are precisely alike ; and it is but natural that 
they should find similar arguments to sustain them. 


I had argued that the application of the principle of 
self-government, as contended for, would require the re- 
vival of the African slave-trade — that no argument could 
be made in favor of a man's right to take slaves to 
Nebraska, which could not be equally well made in favor 
of his right to bring them from the coast of Africa. The 
judge replied that the Constitution requires the suppres- 
sion of the foreign slave-trade ; but does not require the 
prohibition of slavery in the territories. That is a mis- 
take, in point of fact. The Constitution does not require 
the action of Congress in either case ; and it does au- 
thorize it in both. And so, there is still no difference 
between the cases. 

In regard to what I had said of the advantage the 
slave states have over the free, in the matter of represent- 
ation, the judge replied that we, in the free states, count 
five free negroes as five white people, while in the slave 
states they count five slaves as three whites only ; and 
that the advantage, at last, was on the side of the free 

Now, in the slave states, they count free negroes just 
as we do; and it so happens that, besides their slaves, 
they have as many free negroes as we have, and thirty- 
three thousand over. Thus, their free negroes more 
than balance ours ; and their advantage over us, in con- 
sequence of their slaves, still remains as I stated it. 

In reply to my argument, that the Compromise Meas- 
ures of 1850 were a system of equivalents, and that the 
provisions of no one of them could fairly be carried to 
other subjects, without its corresponding equivalent be- 
ing carried with it, the judge denied outright that these 
measures had any connection with, or dependence upon 
each other. This is mere desperation. If they had no 
connection, why are they always spoken of in conncc- 


tion? Why has he so spoken of them a thousand times? 
Why has he constantly called them a series of measures? 
Why docs everybody call them a compromise? Why 
■was California kept out of the Union, six or seven months, 
if it was not because of its connection with the other 
measures? Webster's leading definition of the verb, "to 
compromise," is, " to adjust and settle a difference, by 
mutual agreement, with concessions of claims by the 
parties." This conveys precisely the popular under- 
standing of the word "compromise." 

We knew, before the judge told us, that these meas- 
ures passed separately, and in distinct bills ; and that no 
two of them were passed by the votes of precisely the 
same members. But we also know, and so does he know, 
that no one of them could have passed both branches of 
Congress, but for the understanding that the others were 
to pass also. Upon this understanding, each got votes, 
which it could have got in no other way. It is this fact 
that gives to the measures their true character; and it is 
the universal knowledge of this fact, that has given them 
the name of " Compromises," so expressive of that true 

I had asked, " If in carrying the provisions of the 
Utah and New Mexico laws to Nebraska, you could clear 
away other objection, how can you leave Nebraska 'per- 
fectly free' to introduce slavery before she forms a 
Constitution, during her territorial government? while 
the Utah and New Mexico laws only authorized it when 
they form Constitutions, and are admitted into the 
Union ?" To this Judge Douglas answered that the 
Utah and New Mexico laws, also authorized it before; 
and to prove this, he read from one of their laws, as fol- 
lows : 


"That the legislative power of said territory shall extend to 
all rightful subjects of legislation, consistent with the Constitu- 
tion of the United States and the provisions of this act." 

Now it is perceived from the reading of this, that there 
is nothing express upon the subject; but that the au- 
thority is sought to be implied merely, for the general 
provision of "all rightful subjects of legislation." la 
reply to this I insist, as a legal rule of construction, as 
well as the plain popular view of the matter, that the 
EXPRESS provision for Utah and New Mexico coming 
in with slavery if they choose, when they shall form 
Constitutions, is an exclusion of all implied authority 
on the same subject; that Congress having the subject 
distinctly in their minds, when they made the express 
provision, they therein expressed their whole meaning 
on that subject. 

The judge rather insinuated that I had found it con- 
venient to forget the Washington territorial law passed 
in 1853. This was a division of Oregon, organizing the 
northern part as the Territory of "Washington. He as- 
serted, that, by this act, the ordinance of '87, theretofore 
existing in Oregon, was repealed; that nearly all the 
members of Congress voted for it, beginning in the House 
of Representatives, with Charles Allen, of Massachusetts, 
and ending with Richard Yates, of Illinois ; and that 
he could not understand how those who now oppose the 
Nebraska bill, so voted there, unless it was because it 
was then too soon after both the great political parties 
had ratified the Compromises of 1850, and the ratifica- 
tion therefore too fresh to be then repudiated. 

Now I had seen the Washington act before; and I have 
carefully examined it since; and I aver that there is no 


repeal of the ordinance of '87, or of any proliibition of 
slavery in it. In express terms, there is absolutely 
nothing in the whole law upon the subject; in fact, noth- 
ing to lead a reader to think of the subject. To my 
judgment it is equally free from everything from which 
repeal can be legally implied ; but, however this may be, 
are men now to be intrapped by a legal implication, ex- 
tracted from covert language, introduced, perhaps, for 
the very purpose of intrapping them ? I sincerely wish 
every man could read this law quite through, carefully 
watching every sentence, and every line, for a repeal of 
the ordinance of '87, or anything equivalent to it. 

Another point on the Washington act. If it was in- 
tended to be modeled after the Utah and New Mexico 
acts, as Judge Douglas insists, why was it not inserted 
in it, as in them, that Washington was to come in with 
or without slavery as she may choose at the adoption of 
her Constitution? It has no such provision in it; and I 
defy the ingenuity of man to give a reason for the omis- 
sion, other than that it was not intended to follow the 
Utah and New Mexico laws in regard to the question of 

The Washington act not only differs vitally from the 
Utah and New Mexico acts ; but the Nebraska act differs 
vitally from both. By the latter act the people are left 
" perfectly free " to regulate their own domestic con- 
cerns, etc. ; but in all the former, all their laws are to be 
submitted to Congress, and if disapproved are to be null. 
The Washington act goes even further ; it absolutely 
prohibits the territorial legislation by very strong and 
guarded language, from establishing banks, or borrowing 
money on the faith of the territory. Is this the sacred 
right of self-government we hear vaunted so much? 
No, sir ; the Nebraska bill finds no model in the acts of 


'50, or tbe Washington act. It finds no model in any 
law from Adam till to-day. As Phillips says of Napo- 
leon, the Nebraska act is grand, gloomy, and peculiar ; 
wrapped in the solitude of its own originality, without a 
model and without a shadow upon the earth. 

In the course of his reply. Senator Douglas remarked, 
in substance, that he had always considered this govern- 
ment was made for the white people and not for the 
negroes. Why, in pf)int of mere fact, I think so too. 
But in this remark of the judge there is a significance, 
which I think is the key to the great mistake (if there 
is any such mistake) which he has made in this Nebraska 
measure. It shows that the judge has no very vivid im- 
pression that the negro is a human ; and consequently 
has no idea that there can be any moral question in leg- 
islating about him. In his view, the question of whether 
a new country shall be slave or free, is a matter of as 
utter indifi'erence, as it is whether his neighbor shall 
plant his farm with tobacco, or stock it with horned cat- 
tle. Now whether this view is right or wrong, it is very 
certain that the great mass of mankind take a totally 
difi"erent view. They consider slavery a great moral 
wrong; and their feeling against it is not evanescent, 
but eternal. It lies at the very foundation of their sense 
of justice, and it can not be trifled with. It is a great 
and durable element of popular action, and, I think, no 
statesman can safely disregard it. 

Our Senator also objects that those who oppose him 
in this m,easure do not entirely agree with one another. 
He reminds me that in my firm adherence to the Consti- 
tutional rights of the slave states, I difi"er widely from 
others who are co-operating with me in opposing the 
Nebraska bill ; and he says it is not quite fair to oppose 
him in this variety of ways. He should remember that 


he took us by surprise — astounded us — by this measure. 
We were thunderstruck and stunned; and we reeled and 
fell in utter confusion. But we rose each fighting, grasp- 
ing whatever he could first reach — a scythe — a pitch- 
fork—a chopping-ax, or a butcher's cleaver. We struck 
in the direction of the sound ; and we are rapidly closing 
in upon him. He must not think to divert us from our 
purpose by showing us that our drill, our dress, and our 
weapons, are not entirely perfect and uniform. When 
the storm shall be past, he shall find us still Americans ; 
no less devoted to the continued union and prosperity 
of the country than heretofore. 

Finally, the judge invokes against me the memory of 
Clay and of Webster. They were great men, and men 
of great deeds. But where have I assailed them ? For 
what is it that their life-long enemy shall now make 
profit by assuming to defend them against me, their 
life-long friend? I go against the repeal of the Mis- 
souri Compromise; did they ever go for it? They went 
for the Compromises of 1850; did I ever go against them? 
They were greatly devoted to the Union ; to the small 
measure of my ability was I ever less so? Clay and 
Webster were dead before this question arose ; by what 
authority shall our Senator say they would espouse his 
side of it, if alive? Mr. Clay was the leading spirit in 
making the Missouri Compromise; is it very credible 
that if now alive, he would take the lead in the break- 
ing of it? The truth is that some support from Whigs 
is now a necessity with the judge, and for this it is that 
the names of Clay and Webster are now invoked. His 
old friends have deserted him in such numbers as to 
leave too few to live by. He came to his own, and his 
own received hira notj and lo ! he turns unto the 


A word now as to the judsre's desperate assumption 
that the Compromises of 1S50 had no connection with 
one another; that Illinois came into the Union as a 
slave state ; and some other similar ones. This is no 
other than a bold denial of the history of the country. 
If we do not know that the Compromises of 1850 were 
dependent on each other; if we do not know that Illi- 
nois came into the Union as a free state — we do not 
know anything. If we do not know these things, we 
do not know that we ever had a Revolutionary war, or 
such a chief as Washington. To deny these things is to 
deny our national axioms — or dogmas at least; and it 
puts an end to all argument. If a man will stand up, 
and assert, and repeat, and reassert, that two and two 
do not make four, I know nothing in the power of argu- 
ment that can stop him. I think I can answer the judge 
so long as he sticks to the premises; but when he flies 
from them, I can not work an argument into the con- 
sistency of a maternal gag, and actually close his mouth 
with it. In such a case I can only commend liim to 
the seventy thousand answers just in from Pennsylvania, 
Ohio, and Indiana. 

Mli^^ ^^C^'<C-^i. ^ 







To form an accurate opinion of the character of an 
individual, it is necessary to estimate that of the people 
from which he has sprung, and among whom he has 
lived. The people of Maine, descended from the Eng- 
lish Puritans and merchant adventurers, have preserved 
in an eminent degree the characteristic traits impressed 
by their origin, prominent among which are a devotion 
to the doctrines of popular liberty, and the spirit of 
commercial enterprise. Possessing a country where the 
necessities of soil and climate demand unceasing exer- 
tion, and where the bounties of nature are offered only 
to toil, they feel the nature and dignity of labor, and 
are sensitive as to its rights. Less exclusively devoted 
to agriculture than the people of any other state, they 
seek their wealth in the forest and on the sea. Trained 
by their perilous toil, like the pioneers of the West, they 
are hardy, athletic, self-reliant, and brave. As Maine 
surpasses all the other states in the tonnage of her ship- 
ping and the extent of maritime privileges, the charac- 
ter of her people is strongly marked by their commercial 
relations. Commerce, as it depends upon the benefits 
derived from mutual exchanges with distant countries, 
is opposed to exclusiveness and local prejudice. Thus, 



with the intelligence, refinement, and wealth which com- 
inerce has given to this maritime state, and with the deep 
conviction of the value of their own system of free labor, 
we find among the people of Maine a most intimate 
knowledge and appreciation of the men, institutions, and 
rights of the other states, and a devoted attachment to 
the Union as the source of national and commercial 

Such are the people from whom has sprung the indi- 
vidual who now occupies the proud position of candidate 
for the Vice-Presidency of the United States, and such 
the people who, by making him for more than twenty 
years the recipient of their highest honors, have de- 
clared him to be a true representative of their senti- 
ments and character. 

Hannibal Hamlin, the subject of this sketch, is the 
son of Cyrus Hamlin and Anna Livermore, and was 
born in Paris, the shire town of the county of Oxford, 
in Maine, on the 27th of August, 1809. Cyrus Ham- 
lin, a physician by profession, upon removing from his 
native State, Massachusetts, first settled in the town of 
Livermore, where he married a daughter of Deacon Eli- 
jah Livermore, a principal proprietor of that town, and 
connected with the distinguished family of that name in 
New Hampshire. While in Livermore, Dr. Hamlin built 
the dwelling-house in which were born the three broth- 
ers Washburne, now so worthily representing three states 
in Congress. 

On the formation of the county of Oxford, Dr. Ham- 
lin received the responsible appointment of Clerk of the 
Courts of the county, and upon the separation of Maine 
from Massachusetts, was appointed High Sheriff of the 
county, which office he held for several years. He died 
in 1828, aged about 58, universally respected for hib 


probity, benevolence, and Christian character, having 
been for many years a member of the Baptist Church. 

Dr. Hamlin's ftither, the grandfather of Hannibal, re- 
sided in Massachusetts, and before the Revolution com- 
manded a company of Minute Men, in which five of his 
Bons were enrolled. One of them served during the 
Eevolutionary war, and was a member of the Society of 

Hannibal was the sixth and youngest son of seven 
children, and is not the only one of his family who has 
held a prominent position in his State, one of whom, 
Hon. Elijah Hamlin, an elder brother, residing at Ban- 
gor, having been a member of the Legislature and Senate 
of Maine, and also land agent of the State, and having 
been a candidate of his party for the positions of mem- 
ber of Congress and Governor of Maine. 

Hannibal Hamlin received his early instruction at a 
private school in Paris, and at a public academy in 
Hebron, an adjoining town. It was his intention to 
obtain a collegiate education, and he was nearly fitted for 
college, at the age of sixteen, when an elder brother, who 
it was designed should reside at home and carry on the 
farm, failed in health and left to pursue the study of. 
medicine. The usage of the country required that one, 
at least, of the sons of the family should remain at the 
homestead, and Hannibal left his studies at the academy, 
relinquished the prospects of a collegiate career, and took 
his place with the laborers on the home farm. 

For two years, he worked there with the steadiness of a 
man, when, at his father's instance, and upon the assur- 
ance that his assistance could be dispensed with, he 
determined to commence the study of the law. Quit- 
ting home, he read law in the office of his older brother, 
Elijah, in the eastern part of the State, when his father's 


death again broke up his plans. The only property 
left by his father was the farm, which was given to his 
mother, and filial duty left him no alternative but to 
remain and take charge of the farm, where he labored 
unremittingly for two years after his father's death. 

Great as the sacrifice required in the abandonment of 
a professional career must have seemed to an ambitious 
young man, it was doubtless a blessing in disguise. The 
seclusion of a rural life developed, without doubt, his 
reflective faculties, and the necessity of daily toil gave 
that contempt for personal indulgence, and that energy 
of will which have since distinguished the public man. 
The long days of manual toil were not unrelieved by 
intellectual rest. His father's private library, and the 
well-selected books of the "social library," one of the 
" institutions " of Maine, afforded reading which may 
have been more profitable for his general culture than 
the technical studies of a profession. 

The happy influences of nature ministered also to his 
culture. The county, in which he resided, presents land- 
scape scenery of great magnificence. Lofty mountains, 
of massive granite, may be seen rising abruptly, one 
behind the other, in solemn grandeur, in the distance, 
while glorious views are opened of deep-wooded valleys, 
and small but beautiful lakes, lying in amphitheaters of 

Freedom has its birth-place in mountain homes, and 
the future advocate of freedom may have felt the inspir- 
ation of such scenery, so well expressed by the words of 
one of Maine's most gifted sons : 

"As long as yonder firs shall spread 
Their green arms o'er the mountain's head, 
As long as yonder cliff shall stand, 
Where join the ocean and the land, 


Shall those cliffs and mountains be 
Proud retreats for liberty." — IJpHAJf. 

An incident in the life of young Hamlin, during the 
period of his home labors, illustrates the practical train- 
ing to which the young men of New England are sub- 
jected. When Hannibal was about nineteen years old, 
his father having bought a township of land on Dead 
river, for lumbering purposes, and being unable to com- 
plete th*e survey in the fall, intrusted the work to his son. 
The township was distant about twelve miles from any 
settlement, and covered with the primeval forest. On 
the last of March, the young man took his compass and 
chain, and started for the woods on snow-shoes, with a 
party under his charge, himself ''sacking," as it is called 
in woodman's phrase, his part of the necessary provisions 
on his back. He remained in the woods over a month, 
sleeping wherever the night overtook them, often in the 
gorges of the mountains upon the snow, with a depth of 
seven feet beneath him. 

Another example will occur to all of a young man, 
whose first training for a life of practical labor, which 
has blessed his country and the world, was made as a 

In the spring of 1830, shortly before arriving at his 
majority, Mr. Hamlin, in company with a young man 
who has since attained an honorable public position 
Horatio King, at present First Assistant Postmaster- 
General of the United States, bought, on credit, a Dem 
ocratic paper published in Paris, called the Jeffersonian 
a name indicative of the school of politics of which Mr, 
Hamlin has been so faithful a disciple and teacher, 
While connected with the paper, Mr. Hamlin, although 
constantly furnishing the contributions of his pen, both 
in prose and verse, stood regularly at the case, and set the 


types -with his own hands. This editorial experience 
was an important part of the education of the future 
statesman, as it compelled him to study constitutional 
and political history, and gave a definiteness to his polit- 
ical opinions, which is best secured by writing under 
responsibility to the public eye. 

In the fall of 1830, Mr. Hamlin sold out his interest 
in the Jeffersonian to his partner, and following the ad- 
vice of his mother, recommenced the study of the law 
with Hon. Joseph Gr. Cole, of Paris, afterward a judge 
of the Circuit Court. He subsequently entered the office 
of Messrs. Fessenden, Deblois & Fessenden, of Portland, 
and it is an interesting coincidence, that the younger 
partner of that firm is now the distinguished colleague 
of Mr. Hamlin in the Senate of the United States. 

After reading law the required term — three years — 
Mr. Hamlin was admitted to the bar in his native county, 
and at once entered upon the responsibilities of his pro- 
fession, as, on the day of his admission, he was retained 
in an important case, argued it to the jury, and obtained 
a verdict. In April, 1833, he removed to Hampden, a 
town with about four thousand inhabitants, and a village 
of fifteen hundred, situated on the Penobscot river, six 
miles below the city of Bangor, where he now resides. 

Mr. Hamlin entered at once on an extensive practice 
in his profession, his reputation soon being established 
as a faithful and able lawyer. His business habits, and 
the talent displayed as a public speaker at the bar, where 
he, from the first, argued his own causes, and as a lec- 
turer and speaker in Lyceums, and other popular assem- 
blies, as well as the earnestness and distinctness of his 
political opinions, soon attracted the attention of the 
dominant party, and within three years from the time 
of his taking up his residence among them, his fellow- 


citizens elected him to a seat in the lower house of the 

He was a member of the State Legislature of Maine 
for the years 1836, '37, '38, '39, and '40. He became at 
once a prominent member of the House, and one of the 
loaders of his party, assuming a leading part in all the 
principal debates, and was also one of the most active 
business men in the body. He was Speaker of the House 
for the years 1837, '39, and '40, being only twenty- 
seven years of age when first elected Speaker, and at the 
close of each year received the unanimous vote of thanks 
of the House for the manner in which he discharged his 

In 1840 he was candidate for Congress, during the 
Harrison tornado, and was defeated in a poll of some 
fifteen thousand, by less than two hundred votes. It is 
worthy of notice, that in that election, he canvassed the 
district with his opponent, Hon. Elisha H. Allen, this 
being the first instance, it is believed, in which it was 
ever done in New England. 

In 1843, the election having been postponed one year, 
in consequence of a new apportionment of the census, 
Mr. Hamlin was again a candidate, running against his 
former competitor, and was elected by about a thousand 

In 1844, Mr. Hamlin was again elected to the House 
of Representatives, and, during this Congress, was Chair- 
man of the Committee on Elections, and a member of 
the Committee on Naval Affairs. On returning home, 
in March, 1847, on completion of his service in the 
House, his town had not elected a Representative to the 
State Legislature, it requiring a majority of all the votes, 
and Mr. Hamlin being put ia nomination, was elected 
and served in 1847. 


In May, 1848, Gov. Fairfleld, then Senator from Maine, 
having deceased, Mr. Hamlin was elected to the Senate 
of the United States, to fill the unexpired term of four 
years, and was re-elected on the 25th of July, 1851, after 
encountering the bitter hostility of the then pro-slavery 
Democrats, they refusing to vote for him to the last, not- 
withstanding he was the regular nominee. 

The Augusta Age, the then official paper of its party — 
the Democratic organ, of August 27, 1850, thus congrat- 
ulated its party upon the election of Mr. Hamlin to the 
Senate : 

"Hon. Hannibal Hamlin, the regular Democratic nominee for 
United States Senator, -was elected in both Houses of the Legis- 
lature, on Thursday last. 

"We congratulate the Democracy of the State upon the result. 
We rejoice that the cfuestion has been finally disposed of in a 
manner conformable to the wishes and expectations of a great 
majority of the Democratic party of Maine. 

"The failure to elect Mr. Hamlin at an earlier period in the 
session, was occasioned by the refusal of a small portion of the 
Democratic members to support him, the pretext of their opposition 


EXTENSION OF SLAVERY, and the determination which he cherished 
of obeying the resolutions of instruction passed by the last Legis- 
lature in relation to that subject. 

"After repeated attempts to effect an election had been made 
without success, several members of the free-soil party, believ- 
ing that there was an attempt on the part of the Democrats op- 
posed to INIr. Hamlin, to cut him doirn, in consequence of his 


FREE, although not concurring with him in political opinions, 
voluntarily gave liim their votes, amounting to ten in the House 
of Representatives and three in the Senate, which secured Lis 
election. It was certainly an act of magnanimity, which can not 
fail to be appreciated, and particularly as it was a free-will 
otfering (from men who are in an opposing political organiza- 
tion) to Mr. Hamlin, for his firm aduerkxck to principles 



OF THE North, irrespective of party distinctions." 

Mr. Hamlin served in the Senate and acted with the 
Democratic party until 185-4, voting, however, uniform- 
ly against all projects for slavery extension. He then 
gave public notice in the Senate of the reasons why 
he would no longer co-operate with the party, and re- 
signed his position as Chairman of the Committee on 

In June, 1856, he was nominated by the Republicans 
in Maine as candidate for Governor, the Democratic party 
having carried the State the year before, and being then 
in power. He entered upon the canvass in July, and 
addressed public meetings nearly a hundred times. He 
was elected by eighteen thousand majority, over two 
opponents, and twenty-three thousand majority over his 
Democratic opponent; more than double the majority 
that was ever given in a contested election. 

On the 7th of January, 1857, he resigned his seat in 
the Senate, and was, on the same day, inaugurated Gov- 

On the 16th of the same month, he was re-elected 
United States Senator for six years ; and on the 20th of 
February following, resigned the office of Governor, and 
returned to Washington on the 4th of March. 

It may be said, with strict truth, that during the whole 
period of his congressional life, IMr. Hamlin has pre-em- 
inently distinguished himself as a prompt, efficient, and 
intelligent business man. His first object was to dis- 
charge the business demands made upon him by his own 
constituents. He never received a business letter with- 
out promptly answering it. 

All parties in Maine demanded his services, and have 
always accorded to him the highest credit for the prompt- 


ness and fidelity displayed in the charge of their interests. 
The heads of the Treasury, including such men as Secre- 
tary Guthrie, Acting and Assistant Secretaries Hodge 
and Washington, and Governor Anderson, Commissioner 
of Customs, have declared him to be the best business 
man in the Senate. 

Mr. Hamlin has been a member of that most important 
Committee, that on Commerce, during his whole term in 
the Senate, and was chairman seven years. 

In addition to the vast number of minor matters relat- 
ing to his own constituents and State which he took care 
of, as chairman of his committee, he had the supervision 
of all the great questions and measures affecting the com- 
merce of the country, both domestic and foreign, which 
were acted upon by that committee, no bill being reported 
which he did not fully understand by personal investiga- 

Among the important measures instituted and reported 
by that committee, were those relating to the improve- 
ment of harbors, rivers, and lakes, the whole system of 
light-houses, the protection of passengers on steam and 
sailing vessels, the location and establishment of custom- 
houses, the fixing of ports of entry and delivery, and 
measures connected with the coast survey, besides a mul- 
titude of other measures of less importance connected 
with commerce in all its ramifications. 

The very important act "For the better security of 
lives of passengers on board of vessels impelled in whole 
or in part by steam," passed in August, 1852, was report- 
ed to the Senate by Mr. Davis, of Massachusetts, but was 
prepared by Mr. Hamlin and Mr. Davis jointly, and was 
sustained by Mr. Hamlin in several speeches in the Sen- 
ate. During all the time subsequent to the passage of 
the bill, while Mr. Hamlin was chairman, all the amend- 


atory acts in relation to that subject have been reported 
and supported by him, and he has now charge of the 
bill passed by the House on the same subject. All the 
members of the Board of Supervising Inspectors, ap- 
pointed under these laws, will bear testimony to the 
laborious investigation and practicability displayed by 
Mr. Hamlin in connection with this important matter. 
• The bill regulating the liability of shipowners, was 
reported by Mr. Hamlin, at the second session of the 
Thirty-first Congress, and was carried through the Sen- 
ate mainly by his efforts. This bill placed American 
navigation on the same footing with British navigation, 
and was deemed, by American merchants, of very great 
importance. So important was it considered by the New 
York merchants, that they tendered him a public dinner 
as a testimonial of their appreciation of his services, 
which, however, he declined. 

The codification of the whole revenue laws, prepared 
under Secretary Guthrie, was made in pursuance of a 
resolution introduced by Mr. Hamlin in the Senate, Jan- 
uary 19, 1853, who subsequently obtained an appropria- 
tion of ten thousand dollars for the same. 

It was by the efforts of Mr. Hamlin that appropria- 
tions were made for the construction of the various 
custom-houses, which have been built within the last 
few years — to wit: at Wheeling, Cincinnati, St. Louis, 
Bangor, Belfast, Portsmouth, Galveston, Georgetown, 
Milwaukie, Norfolk, Chicago, and more than twenty 
other points in different parts of the country. It was a 
proviso of his that the cost of construction should, in all 
cases, be limited to the amount appropriated. 

Mr. Hamlin had made two elaborate speeches on the 
fisheries, as connected with the commerce and naval serv- 
ice of the country. He has also sustained the ocean 


mail service as auxiliary to the commerce of the country. 
An important report was made by him exhibiting the 
commercial relations between this country and Brazil. 

He has always been a friend to a general system of 
improvement of harbors and rivers, and besides report- 
ing many bills, has made several speeches in defense of 
the system. 

The provision of law which grants pensions to the 
widows of Revolutionary soldiers since 1800, was the 
work of Mr. Hamlin. 

While a member of the House, Mr. Hamlin made a 
speech giving notice to the British Government to term- 
inate the joint occupancy of the Territory of Oregon. 

This was a progressive and, it may be said, prophetic 
speech. In this, he indicated a Pacific Railroad, and 
predicted the establishment of great commercial states 
on the shores of the Pacific. 

He was an early friend of a graduation in the price of 
public lands. He was not, at that time, a supporter of 
the homestead bill, but has been, for several years past, 
earnestly and decidedly so. 

Mr. Hamlin was in favor of the bill appropriating land 
for agricultural colleges, and another bill making appro- 
priations for the benefit of the indigent insane. He was 
an earnest advocate of the admission of California, and 
made the first elaborate speech in the Senate in favor 
of its admission. 

Mr. Hamlin voted with his party for the tariff of 184G, 
although he never hesitated to express his personal pref- 
erence for a system of specific duties. 

The question arising in the House on the 5th of Jan- 
uary, 1843, in relation to the twenty-first rule prohibit- 
ing the reception of abolition petitions, after some 
remarks by Mr. Black, who said he hoped the House 


would adopt the amendment whicli he had proposed, to 
instruct the Committee on Rules to report to the House 
that rule by -which abolitionists would be debarred from 
intruding on them their incendiary doctrines, the effect 
and operation of which were most damnable. He de- 
sired the vote to be recorded by yeas and nays ; and he 
reiied confidently upon a democratic majority to sustain 
his motion. Mr. Hamlin, after declaring that the time, 
as he trusted, had gone by (if it ever existed) when the 
galvanic starts, and fits, and deep intonations of any 
gentleman could produce an impression in that hall,, 
and that he should vote irrespective of all such influences, 
on this and every other question, according to the dic- 
tates of right and wrong, notwithstanding the defiance 
of the gentleman from Georgia; proceeded to say that 
he should vote against the rule, because he believed that 
the right of petition was not an abstraction, but a clear, 
plain, and sacred Constitutional right, neither to be 
denied or infringed upon. Such being its character it 
was one which could not be controlled by this or any 
other legislative body without a Constitutional violation. 
It was a Constitutional right disconnected with the opin- 
ions of any body of men. When the House said in 
advance that they would not receive petitions upon any 
particular subject, they undertook to prejudge, and they 
did prejudge the matter, and to exclude individuals from 
privileges which Constitutionally belonged to them. It 
was confounding our duly of receiving with the i-ight to 
act after reception. He very well understood that the 
action of the House upon petitions aftetr they were re- 
ceived, was to fully and clearly be determined by a ma- 
jority. The right to petition was a distinct question ; 
the power of the House to reject or refuse the prayer is 
another and distinct proposition. 


If the right of the people to have their petitions re- 
cricrjJ^ is dependent upon the will of the majority, then 
there was no question, over which a majority, perhaps 
arbitrary and tyrannical, might not exercise that right; 
and the right of petition becomes then, not the right of 
a Constitution, but a right dependent upon the will of a 
majority. * * * He was not disposed to argue these 
questions. The conclusions which he drew from them 
were irresistible to his own mind. For the reasons 
stated, or rather upon these principles, as stated, he must 
vote against the twenty-first rule, and in favor of receiv- 
ing such petitions as were presented. 

On the ?3d of January, 1S45, the House having re- 
solved itself into a Committee of the Whole, and having 
under consideration the joint resolutions for the re- 
annexation of Texas to the Union, Mr. Hamlin made 
a speech which is imperfectly and partially reported ia 
the Congressional Gluhe. He observed, that he enter- 
tained but little hope that any suggestions that he might 
oifer in this oft-discussed question would produce much 
impression within these walls. Yet the intrinsic im- 
portance of the question before the House, and its ex- 
tensive influence on the most momentous interests of 
the country, would, he hoped, plead his excuse if he oc- 
cupied his " brief hour within that hall." 

We possessed a country favored of Heaven, extending 
from the frozen regions of the North, to the fair, and 
rich, and smiling lands beneath the southern sun, and 
spreading from the Atlantic ocean, which had for cen- 
turies dashed with unceasing wave upon our eastern sea- 
board, back, back to the Pacific, whose more gentle 
murmurs broke upon our western shores. We had a 
country which embraced every climate of the globe, and 
which brought forth, in rich abundance, almost every 


natural product known to the world. Over all this 
glory the light of knowledge and the purer light of 
Christianity shed their blended rays, while a mild system 
of municipal laws spread the shield of its protection over 
the homes of a happy people. Now, it must be manifest 
at a glance, that a government extended over so wide a 
space, and embracing interests so multifarious, and men 
so widely separated from each other, not merely in local 
habitation, but in feelings, sentiments, and habits, must 
of necessity be founded on compromise; and such was, 
in fact, the basis of our free republican government, 
reposing upon the confidence of its people. He invoked 
the legislators of such a country to come up to the im- 
portant question before them, with impulses and feelings 
worthy of its importance and of their own high station, 
and with views wide and enlarged, as was that extended 
domain over which the voice of Providence, speaking 
through the voices of a free people, had made them for 
a time the rulers. 

The gentleman who had preceded Mr. Hamlin had ably 
discussed those Constitutional provisions under which 
it was now claimed that he should act. It was not, 
therefore, his intention specially to present any views 
he might entertain as to the Constitutionality or uncon- 
stitutionality of the act to which they were invoked. He 
would merely say this, that from a cool, calm, and delib- 
erate view of the question, he had arrived at a conclusion 
which would justify him in giving his ready sanction to 
the proposed annexation of Texas. All he desired was 
such provisions and restrictions as should present it in 
the form of a national, and not a sectional question, but 
alike just and fair to all. With these conditions and re- 
strictions, Mr. Hamlin was prepared to go for immediate 
annexation. He should, indeed, have preferred that this 


measure should have been left to the incoming adminis- 
tration, which, as it had received the confidence of the 
people in advance, would vindicate their choice by prov- 
ing themselves worthy of it. The present administra- 
tion, as every one knew, enjoyed the confidence of no 
party, and the respect of but few men, and he had there- 
fore hoped that a measure of such importance would 
have been reserved for an administration which would 
justly possess the confidence of the nation. But the 
question was now before them ; it was there, and it was 
now their duty to examine it. This great and important 
national question had been dragged down, down, down, 
from its own proper sphere, to a wretched, contemptible 
one for extending and perpetuating slavery. Yes, he 
repeated it, the attempt had been made by certain gen- 
tlemen to degrade it from its nationality into a ques- 
tion for promoting one narrow sectional interest — the 
strengthening of slave power. Mr. Hamlin proposed to 
examine it as it had been presented to the Senate and to 
the nation by the present administration, in its corre- 
spondence. He should endeavor to trace its history 
from the first incipient step until it had at length 
reached this hall, and the position it now occupied 
there. He should treat it as a question of the rean- 
nexation of Texas, and not merely of the Texan terri- 
tory, for there was a broad distinction between annexing 
a foreign government and admitting a territory which had 
belonged to us before. Mr. Hamlin was well aware that 
with a view to great and important national purposes, 
a union of this territory of Texas with our own had 
been desired by almost all the administrations of govern- 
ment from the days of Mr. Jefi'erson. In that desire Mr. 
Hamlin heartily concurred. Let it come now, as it would 
have come then, and he should be satisfied. What had 


been the origin of this idea of re-annexing a sovereign 
power to the Union ? It had originated, if the published 
correspondence told the truth, in a letter from a gentle- 
man of Baltimore, suggesting that the British Govern- 
ment cherished the design of effecting the abolition of 
slavery in Texas. Such had been the language of the 
late lamented Secretary Upsher ; and he called the 
attention of our agents in Texas to the designs thus 
attributed to the British ministry. Such had been the 
original cause of the invitation to Texas to negotiate 
for a Union. Was there any force in this consideration 
that should engage our Government to look so favorably 
on the plan, while, on the other hand, we were gravely 
told that the official denial of the British Government 
that she did not design to interfere with that institu- 
tion, was entitled to no confidence; and that we must 
not look at the course in which the question was pre- 
sented in the correspondence of our Government? He 
thought otherwise. If our Government had deemed a 
mere rumor of sufficient importance to justify them in 
entering into negotiations with a foreign power, should 
they not regard the correspondence furnished them as 
demanding an examination for the purpose of seeing 
upon what ground the present administration had based 
its acts? What consistency! when our Government, 
on mere rumor, could enter into a foreign negotiation, 
yet Congress was not to examine even the correspond- 
ence of our own official agents. The President, in 
communicating the correspondencfe to the House, had 
indeed elevated it above that degrading position, yet the 
correspondence told, in language not to be misunder- 
stood, the first main course urged and subsequently sus- 
tained by the present Secretary of State. Mr. Ham- 
lin would trace the course of this correspondence. He 


need not read it, for it must be familiar to the minds of 
gentlemen. Having begun, in consequence of allegations 
contained in a private letter, we had next the same argu- 
ment of Mr. Calhoun, asking for the action of Congress 
in the annexation of Texas. And for what? Because 
he greatly feared lest slavery should be abolished in 

Mr. Hamlin would invite the attention of gentlemen 
especially to a labored article of the Secretary, and let 
them say whether its whole aim was not to justify, 
uphold, and defend slavery as riglit in principle^ and 
whether he did not demand Texas for the avowed pur- 
pose of extending, strengthening, and perpetuating it. 
AVas that a national aspect of this great question ? Was 
it not stooping down from a high-sounding prologue to 
a most contemptible farce? 

They had been told that the Government was alarmed 
from an apprehended interference by foreign Governments 
in this matter, and here Mr. Hamlin was happy to agree 
with gentlemen on all sides of the House. He would ask 
no power on the habitable globe to say what this republic 
might or ought to do. She was her own judge, and her 
own adviser, yielding to the dictates of no power on 
earth. He trusted that that would be her course in 
regard to the national honor and the national dignity 
at home. He entertained no doubt that it would be. 

Next came the official correspondence of the State 
Department, and the instructions prepared for our min- 
ister to France. The language of those instructions was 
so very apposite to sustain the position Mr. Hamlin had 
txiken that he would beg the attention of the Committee 
while he read a few extracts. 

The letter was a labored defense of slavery, and the 
alleged design of the British Government to abolish 


slavery in Texas is seized upon to aid in favor of an- 
nexation. This was what he said : 

" But, to descend to particulars : it is certain that 
while England, like France, desires the independence of 
Texas, with the view to commercial connections, it is not 
less so that one of the leading motives of England for 
desiring it, is the hope that, through her diplomacy and 
influence, negro slavery may be abolished there, and ulti- 
mately by consequence in the United States, and through- 
out the whole of this continent. That its ultimate abo- 
lition throughout the entire continent is an object ardently 
desired by her, we have decisive proof in the declaration 
of the Earl of Aberdeen, delivered to this department, 
and of which you will find a copy among the documents 
transmitted to Congress with the Texan treaty. That 
she desires its abolition in Texas, and has used her influ- 
ence and diplomacy to efi'ect it there, the same document, 
with the correspondence of this department with Mr. 
Packenham, also to be found among the documents, fur- 
nishes proof not less conclusive. That one of the objects 
of abolishing it there, is to facilitate its abolition in the 
United States, and throughout the continent, is manifest 
from the declaration of the abolition party and societies, 
both in this country and in England. In fact, there is 
good reason to believe that the scheme of abolishing it 
in Texas, with the view to its abolition in the United 
States, and over the continent, originated with the prom- 
inent members of the party in the United States, and was 
first broached by them in the (so-called) World's Con- 
vention, held in London in the year 1840, and through 
its agency brought to the notice of the British Grovern- 

Then follows the argument of the Secretary to show 
why England designs to aid in the abolition of slavery 


in Texas, that she can better control the monopoly of the 
tropical productions. The whole scope of the argument 
tended to prove or assert that abolition in Texas should 
not be permitted by our Government. His conclusion, 
then, must be that it must be annexed for that cause. 
So he understood it. 

" It is unquestionable that she regards the abolition 
of slavery in Texas as a most important step toward this 
great object of policy, so much the aim of her solicitude 
and exertions; and the defeat of the annexation of Texas 
to our Union as indispensable to the abolition of slavery 
there. She is too sagacious not to see what a fatal blow 
it would give to slavery in the United States, and how 
certainly its abolition with us would abolish it over the 
whole continent, and thereby give her a monopoly in the 
productions of the great tropical staples, and the com- 
mand of the commerce, navigation, and manufactures of 
the world, with an established naval ascendency and po- 
litical preponderance. To this continent the blow would 
be calamitous beyond description. It would destroy, in 
a great measure, the cultivation and production of the 
great tropical staples, amounting annually in value to 
nearly $300,000,000— the fund which stimulates and 
upholds almost every other branch of its industry, com- 
merce, navigation, and manufactures. The whole, by 
their joint influence, arc rapidly spreading population, 
wealth, improvement, and civilization over the whole 
continent, and vivifying, by their overflow, the industry 
of Europe ; thereby increasing its population, wealth, 
and advance in the arts, in power, and in civilization." 

What ! was it true that the slave institution, in this 
country, was the great upholder of the power of this re- 
public, and the great means of spreading civilization over 
the world? Was it on such a correspondence, and on such 


doctrines that gentlemen of that House were solicited to 
vote in the affirmative, and to consummate this union 
between Texas and the United States? When this cor- 
respondence was given to the world, and they should 
return home, and tell their constituents that they had 
voted for annexation, on such principles, and with such 
an aim, would they not be pronounced recreant to their 
duty, and traitors to their country? 

Mr. Hamlin denied this reasoning, and the conclusion. 
If Government were thus bound to extend its dominion 
for such a purpose, it made what was entirely a domestic 
affair, one of a national character. The Genei-al Gov- 
ernment had no right to interfere in it. If it could 
extend for a supposed beneficial purpose, it could restrict, 
if it believed it would produce the same or a beneficial 
effect. It was an attempt to make a national question 
out of what related solely to the states ; and those who 
assumed to give it that character, would be swift indeed 
to prevent the action of Congress in another and differ- 
ent direction. The question of annexation was fully and 
clearly national, not one where Government should act 
for a cause over which he had no right to interfere. 

But the matter stopped not here. What had been 
said by the Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Af- 
fairs, (Mr. C. J. Ingersoll,) when he had first presented 
this subject for the action of Congress. Mr. Hamlin 
would beg leave to read some sentences of the gen- 
tleman's speech, as it had been given in the report of 
the Intelligencer, word for word, and letter for letter. 

He had suggested this plan of carrying out the treaty 
as well in committee as in the House, for these reasons: 
1st. The measure was a bargain; it was an arrangement 
made with another nation, and the plan had been ma- 
tured by respectable agents attending here on the part 


of the government of Texas, and empowered by it ad 
Jwc ; he therefore took it for granted that this plan was 
the most acceptable to that government, and he there- 
fore gave it the preference. He went a step further: 
this was not only a Texas question ; it was, moreover, a 
Southern question ; and, as he meant to speak here with 
all the freedom and frankness which he supposed to be- 
come a gentleman, he would say that as a Southern ques- 
tion he considered it, and was ready to defer to South- 
ern sentiment in regard to it. And was not this ftiir? 
When the question of the Northeastern boundary was 
agitated in Congress, had it not finally been settled by 
the expressed wishes of the two States immediately in- 
terested, viz., Massachusetts and Maine. The other States 
acquiesced. The measure could not have commanded a 
majority in the Senate, if all the Senators had been gov- 
erned by their own particular wishes and views in regard to 
it; but they considered that if Massachusetts and Maine 
were satisfied with the arrangement, they ought not to 
resist it. So, in the present case, Mr. Ingersoll consid- 
ered this, as he had said, not only as a Texas question, 
but as a Southern question, as a boundary question, and 
as a slavery question. He should speak without reserve. 
If that portion of the people of the Union whose exist- 
ence depended on the existence of slavery, and who were 
the most deeply and immediately interested in this Texas 
question, preferred the treaty plan, Mr. Ingersoll was 
prepared to acquiesce. He admitted, indeed, that it was 
a national question ; but so was our Maine boundary a na- 
tional question ; and there was such a thing as conform- 
ing a national question to local views. The former 
Secretary of State, a man of most honorable, lofty, and 
patriotic sentiments, (he referred to the late lamented 
Mr, Secretary Upshur,) who had originated this treaty, 


and his successor, another Southern gentleman, who car- 
ried it into effect, had been actuated, no doubt, by such 
Southern sentiments as they in the North were not ex- 
actly prepared to appreciate; but J\Ir. Ingersoll should 
not, therefore, reject the measure. 

Who, then, has made this question subservient to a 
particular object? Those who had done so, certainly 
could not complain of others who would consult the 
wishes and opinions of all sections, and acquire it in 
such a way as would permit those who disagree on cer- 
tain questions, to occupy it in portions as each should 
prefer. They could not with Banquo say: 

"'Say, shake not thy gory locks at mel 
Thou canst not say I did it." 

To all these doctrines Mr. Hamlin entered his earnest, 
solemn protest. They were monstrous, and not for a 
moment to be entertained. 

Here was the history of this measure as presented in 
our oflScial correspondence, and as traced to the House. 
It was conceded that the treaty reported from the Com- 
mittee on Foreign Affairs, was prepared by Mr. Upshur, 
as a " Southern measure." The doctrines laid down by 
the gentleman of Pennsylvania, (Mr. Ingersoll,) could 
not be admitted. If another republic was to come in 
this Union, it were right and just that all sections, in 
their views and sentiments, should be consulted, and the 
admission made in accordance to all, as near as possible. 
One section should be equally consulted and regarded 
in its interests and feelings with another. It was to 
these views to which he had referred, that Mr. Hamlin 
objected, and all he desired was to so place the matter 
before the country, as not to sanction or approve them. 
How was the responsibility of indorsing these opinioua 


to be avoided, if the measure were consummated in such 
a way as to secure the object named, be could not see. 
Gentlemen did not, be was sure, design to annex Texas 
for such a purpose ; and it was proper to be careful that 
their acts should not effect what they did not intend. 

He could refer to other authorities elsewhere, placing 
the question, and urging its adoption on the same prin- 
ciples. He could cite the language used by honorable 
gentlemen upon that floor, but it was his design mainly 
to examine the false attitudes in which it had presented 
itself in the ofEcial correspondence, and how it had been 
introduced into the House. All he desired was to put 
the measure upon that position which would disconnect 
it from the basis upon which it had been falsely placed. 
Instead of carrying it out and consummating the act in 
that way, it should be upon grounds which would give 
all the states the territory in such a manner as would 
accommodate the whites and institutions of different sec- 
tions. He would vote for either proposition thus guard- 
ed and just. 

How was the question directly before the House : 

First. Was the treaty from the Committee of Foreign 
Affairs, vrhich had been rejected by the Senate, article 
for article, word for word, and letter for letter. 

Second. The resolution, which was a literal copy of the 
treaty, and as an amendment to that was the resolution 
of the gentleman from Ohio, (I\Ir. "Weller,) and as an 
amendment to the amendment was the proposition of the 
gentleman from Illinois, (Mr. Douglas.) 

Would not the adoption of either of these secure all 
that has been desired by those who have put it on the 
ground of a sectional character. The question upon 
either of the amendments, as he fully understood it, 
•would be admitting the territory and securing slave in- 


stitutions in it all, or very nearly all. He could see no 
other conclusion which could be drawn. 

It was very true that the amendment of the gentleman 
from Illinois, (Mr. Douglas,) excluded it from north of 
thirty-six degrees thirty minutes north latitude. It was 
said by many that no part of Texas lay north of that line, 
and according to the map it was a small strip not suscep- 
tible of forming even one state. The rest of Texas has 
slavery guaranteed to it by its Constitution, and intelli- 
gent gentlemen frankly admitted that it would demand 
an admission as a state, with the same institutions upon 
an implied guarantee. 

Some gentlemen had said to the opponents of the 
measure on the ground of slavery: "Let the abstract 
question first be settled, and let the rest remain an open 
question, and we can arrange the details afterward." Mr. 
Hamlin had been and now was willing to go for that; he 
would cheerfully vote to settle the abstract question first 
without including any details, if they would only leave 
all else open and settle the details afterward. But how 
stood the matter in fact? Mr. Hamlin should be very 
glad to find that they had not been mistaken. Would 
they let the question of slavery remain an open question ? 
He feared not. The moment that was insisted on, they 
opposed it with all their power. He asked gentlemen to 
answer him this question directly and plainly : If Texas 
should be admitted without the exclusion of slavery, 
would they not afterward say that those who had voted 
for the abstract question stood pledged to the whole ter- 
ritory, as it was when admitted ? And would they not 
be reproached with a violation of faith, should they after- 
ward insist on the exclusion of slavery from any portion 
of the territory? Would it not be said that they had 
bound themselves by every sacred tie that could bind a 


man ? And would they not be taunted with more sever- 
ity than they ever had been before should they then re- 
fuse to the South all it should demand ? 

If gentlemen really meant what they said verbally, let 
them employ language in the resolution which pledged 
them to that effect, and Mr. Hamlin was prepared to go 
for the measure. He honestly avowed what he intended. 
He stated his position without reserve, and he was ready 
to march up to his duty, come what might. 

They had been told on all sides that this Texas ques- 
tion had been settled by the people in the recent Presi- 
dential election. To the decisions of his countrymen 
Mr. Hamlin was prepared ever to bow, because his doc- 
trine was that the people of a nation, the great mass of 
the common intelligence, was always right: he did not 
mean to intimate that the public mind could never be de- 
ceived, but he did most firmly believe that the motives and 
impulses of the people, taken as a body, were always right, 
and therefore he was ready to bow to their opinion when- 
ever expressed. And was the great majority of the Amer- 
ican people in flvvor of annexation? He believed they 
were, and so was he decidedly ; but that that majority 
had prescribed the manner of the annexation, and the 
details of the measure, he no more believed than he did 
that there had been no election at all. How had the 
question been presented to the people? In one section 
of the country it had been presented in one way, and 
in another section in another; in one portion of the 
Union the details had been omitted, and in others per- 
haps they might have been avowed. For himself, his col- 
leagues would all testify with what industry and zeal he 
had labored in behalf of the Democratic party in the late 
election. His colleagues, too, know that Mr. Hamlin's 
exertions had not been limited by his own district, but 


had been extended through various parts of the state. 
He had met his own constituents face to face, and he 
knew how he presented it to them. And now he asked 
how this Texas question had been presented to the people 
of the North ? Had they not been told that our gov- 
ernment throughout was essentially a government of 
compromises? and that this question, like all others, 
was to be settled on fair principles of compromise? And 
were they not told that the arrangement would, in the 
end, admit more free than slave states into the Union? 
Undeniably they were. All the Democratic papers in 
New England which advocated the measure, that he saw, 
had placed it on that ground. There might be here and 
there a rare exception, but in general they quoted the 
language of Mr. Clay. They were honest in taking this 
position, and backed up this opinion by evidence drawn 
from the lips of the opponents of the measure. Mr. 
Hamlin had said to thousands of his constituents the 
same, and now demanded that gentlemen who had thus 
presented the measure should follow it out on the same 
ground. He more. What did the resolu- 
tions from the New Hampshire Legislature declare ? 
and on what basis did they rest? Had it not been that 
more free states than slave states would be admitted, it 
would be a quibble to say that the reference was to states 
not found out of that territory ; the reference was ob- 
viously to Texas and to Texas alone. Let the resolution 
speak for itself: 

" Resolved, That we believe with Mr. Clay, ' that the reannexa- 
tion of Texas will add more free than slave states to the Union, 
and that it would be unwise to refuse a permanent acquisition, ' 
which will exist as long as the globe remains, on account of a 
temporary institution.'" 


If he was not mistaken this was nearly the language 
used by Mr. Clay in one of his letters, when he spoke of 
the territory as being so situated, that it would or could 
make more free than slave states. Such, certainly, was 
his expressed opinion and argument. 

And now, what did they ask? What was the request 
of a portion of the decided friends of annexation ? It 
was no more nor less than this, that gentlemen would 
meet them on the ground of mutual concession, and 
would take Texas in such a manner as to comply with 
Northern principles and sentiments, as well as with 
Southern feelings and interests. Was this asking too 
much? But Mr. Hamlin would go further. A propo- 
sition had been made in the other end of the Capitol, and 
that, too, by a Southern senator, (Mr. Hay ward,) which 
spoke volumes for his heart as a man, and still more 
for his head as a statesman. Mr. Hamlin would strike 
out that provision in the joint resolution which required 
the action of the treaty power, as he deemed that un- 
necessary, and might endanger the measure. Here was 
a fair compromise, giving an equal number of free and 
slave states, and for it would gladly vote. jMr. Hamlin 
had no disposition to discuss either the merits or de- 
merits of slavery ; the eloquent Pinckney had done 
this far better than Mr. Hamlin could do. They were 
Southern lips which had in substance said of slavery, 
" that the green earth of God was scorched wherever its 
footsteps were seen." They had declared that slavery 
was marked by the curse both of God and man. For 
himself Mr. Hamlin took it as but one of many evils 
inflicted upon us in our colonial state by the British 
government. He left it to time and to God to control, 
to limit, or to abolish it as he deemed best. And now 


he would ask of the South whether they could say that 
their Northern friends asked more than they were will- 
ing to concede? Were they not willing to settle this 
matter on the principles of compromise? He was, 
because he believed that Northern as well as Southern 
interests, that the commerce, the agriculture, and espe- 
cially the manufactures of the North, together with the 
industry of the country generally, would all be benefited 
by the proposed union. At the same time he believed 
this would prove a great benefit to the South, by giving 
them possession of a country eminently adapted to the 
production of our great staple commodities, more espe- 
cially of cotton, of which they could enjoy a monopoly. 
These Mr. Hamlin considered as great national views, 
all going to justify the scheme of annexation. As for 
the military argument, he did not look upon that as 
worth a great deal. He regarded the mutual benefits 
which would result alike to the whole Union. 

But then the North requested that if they aided their 
Southern brethren in making this acquisition they should 
themselves participate in it. Let them have an equal 
portion of the territory which they might populate and 
improve with the vigorous sinews and the strong arms 
of freemen. 

A portion of the advocates of this measure contended 
that this was a national question, but there were others 
who had treated it as sectional, who did not cease to say 
that it was a Southern question and must be controlled 
by the South alone. Mr. Hamlin viewed it as a national 
question. He advocated it as such alone ; and that it might 
be so, the North requested and expected that a fair propor- 
tion of Texan territory should be exempted from slavery, 
so that their emigrants might be enabled to go there and 
share in the benefits of the new acquisition. "Wherever 


they had heretofore gone, they had subdued the forests 
and turned the unbroken wilderness into fruitful fields. 
If they became disgusted with the benefits and results 
of free labor, let them be left at liberty to exchange it 
for the labor of slaves if they could. Mr. Hamlin be- 
lieved he hazarded nothing in saying that the day was 
far distant when any community that had made the ex- 
periment, and seen the effects of free labor on their 
prosperity, could ever be induced to introduce and estab- 
lish slavery in its place. It could never be done. 

Once more, he said, Let this question be settled now ; 
let it be known, at once, whether any part of the Terri- 
tory of Texas was to be resigned to slave-labor alone. 
If there was to be a partition line, let it be designated at 
once, so that settlers from the North might know where 
to go; and let it be a just line. It is admitted that a 
portion of the territory is adapted to free labor. That, 
too, is the part yet unsettled, and may be converted into 
free states without affecting the rights of persons now 
in Texas. An equal or fair division can be made, and 
not molest or disturb what may be secured to the citizens 
of that republic. Why are not they willing to do what 
is admitted to be in accordance with the character of the 
country ; and let the citizens of one section of our 
Union enjoy the benefits of a part of the territory 
without coming in conflict with an institution which they 
neither desire nor would be connected with. 

He would ask the attention of gentlemen to two 
points : If it was insisted on that he was under a 
wrong impression on this question, how easy was it to 
bring that question to a test, by meeting their friends 
on fair and equal terms; if gentlemen said that terms 
and details should remain an open question, then let 
them insert an " exclusion to a conclusion," and he 


would say at once, Let Texas come in. Let the North. 
be but fairly met, and he would vote for her admission 
with cheerfulness. 

But there was another matter connected with this 
question which Mr. Hamlin had designed to examine. 
He referred to the jeers and the taunts which had been 
thrown out, in the course of this debate, upon the North. 
When he first heard language of this kind, the natural 
impulse of his heart rose instantly, prompting him to 
hurl back all such reproaches, and meet them in the same 
spirit in which they came ; but reflection had chastened 
him on that subject ; Southern gentlemen should not 
provoke a retort from him. This was a question which 
it did not become a statesman to narrow down into an 
angry contest of mutual recrimination. No! he should 
pass by the taunts and the jeers by which it would seem 
that gentlemen sought to provoke even their Northern 
allies, as he would the idle wind; and, if it was any con- 
solation to gentlemen to discuss a great national question 
in that spirit, he had no reproaches to cast upon them. 
No ! he remembered the history of the South too well ; 
he did not choose to forget that, in other days, the South 
had stood by the North, shoulder to shoulder, and had 
shed her gushing blood, like rain-drops, in many a hard- 
fought field. The sands of many a battle-plain had been 
fertilized by her best blood; and if her sons did now for- 
get the feelings and the principles of their fathers, if that 
devoted patriotism and broad and general love of coun- 
try, which led them into every pass of danger, and 
sustained them under every ti-ying privation, had for- 
saken the bosom of their sons, he could only contemplate 
such a spectacle with a sigh. If the North had acted 
wickedly, he offered for her no apology — that wicked- 
ness was not the crime of her peojjle: it belonged to her 


politicians alone. Mr. Hamlin had neither reproaches to 
cast nor defense to offer, for the folly or wickedness 
which, at times, had been committed by political men. 
Sure he was that the hardy sons of the ice-bound region 
of New England had poured out their blood without 
stint, to protect the homes of the South, and to avenge 
her wrongs ; their bones were even now bleaching beneath 
the sun on many a Southern hill, and the monuments of 
their brave devotion might still be traced wherever their 
country's flag had floated in the battle-field, or on the 
breeze, upon the lakes, the ocean, and the land. 

"New England's dead — New England's dead, 
On every field they lie; 
On every field made red 
With bloody victory. 

"Their bones are on our Northern hills, 
And on the Southern plain, 
By brook and river, mount and rills, 
And in the sounding main." 

"I glory," cried ]Mr. Hamlin, "in New England and 
New England's institutions. There she stands, with her 
free schools and her free labor, her fearless enterprise, her 
indomitable energy. With her rocky hills, her torrent 
streams, her green valleys, her heavenward pointed spires ; 
there she stands, a moral monument, around which the 
gratitude of her country binds the wreath of fame, while 
protected freedom shall repose forever at its base. 

"I meet not my Southern brethren with the brand of 
discord, but with the olive-branch of peace. I meet them 
in the spirit of harmony; I desire to meet them on even 
ground — on ground alike respectful to the North and to 
the South, and I invoke them to perform this great na- 
tional act in such a manner that Southern and Northern 


hands may unite in raising the stars and stripes of our 
beloved Union ; and that Southern and Northern hearts 
may rejoice together to behold them floating forever over 
the rich and fertile Texan plains. I ask, will not gentle- 
men meet us here? "Will they not rescue this measure 
alike from danger and reproach, and put it in a shape to 
gratify us all ? I entreat them to look at the question 
in all the lights of cool reflection, before they finally re- 
ject a compromise which, while it secures them an ines- 
timable benefit, does equal justice to all sections and all 
interests of the Union." 

On the 14th of January, 1847, the question arising on 
the bill to establish the territorial government of Ore- 
gon, Mr. Hamlin made the speech in the House before 
referred to, in which, among other things, he said : 

" Before proceeding to an examination of the matters 
which I propose to discuss, I invoke the attention of this 
House to the manner in which this debate has been 
conducted upon the other side. Had a stranger within 
these walls listened to the discussion, he would readily 
have supposed that we of the free states were waging an 
unholy crusade against the Southern population of this 
confederacy ; that we were laying unholy and polluted 
hands upon the sacred rights guaranteed by the Consti- 
tution to the Southern states ; that we were disregarding 
their sacred rights, and almost trampling upon their do- 
mestic altars. Sir, is this so? I have not yet listened 
to the first man who has addressed this House, upon this 
side, who would trample upon, or trifle with, a solitary 
right of any one of the states of this Union. On the 
other hand, there has been but one spontaneous and uni- 
form declaration that we will stand by them in weal and 
in woe. 

"In the discussion of this matter, then, gentlemen are 


not to escape on these collatei-al issues. They are not 
to raise the smoke of their own creating, and vanish -be- 
hind it. No man proposes to disturb a single right guar- 
anteed by the Constitution to any one of the states. 
On the other hand, we pledge ourselves, here and here- 
after, that we will stand by them as one common broth- 
erhood, engaged in one common cause. No, sir; we 
design no such thing; we counsel no such thing, and 
we will not concur in any such thing. As members of 
this great confederacy, however, we do ask and demand 
that in all things submitted to our deliberation, we shall 
have the right to speak, and speak with manly boldness 
and firmness, to defend and maintain the rights of the 
constituents we represent on this floor. AVe ask no more, 
we will take no less." 

Further on he says: "The question submitted to us — 
and it is a question not to be winked out of sight — is, 
arc we to acquire other and foreign territory, either for 
the purpose or with the consent of the people of this 
Union, that it may be converted into slave territory? 
Never, sir; never, to the end of time, with my aid and 
with my assistance, shall that acquisition take place. 
While I desire to see the union of California to these 
States, it must come /rec, or not at all. And now, I say, 
with the gentlemen from South Carolina, (Messrs. Burt 
and Rhett,) noio is the time when we are to meet this 
question fairly, and talk openly and boldly to each other, 
that there may be no misunderstanding between us here- 
after. Gentlemen have perfectly understood, if nothing 
were said or done now, slavery would be sure to advance 
and run over the territories which we might acquire 
There could be no mistake about that fact. Suffer this 
time to go by, and give the acquiescence of silence, and 
the conclusion was foregone. A siloit acqiiicscotce is 


equal to an affirmative vote in favor of slavery ; and to 
avoid the issue now is equally responsible. And while 
we vote with cheerfulness for all supplies, men and 
money, to prosecute the war with the utmost vigor, and 
while all should rally for the country in this crisis ; 
while there should be no holding back, at the same 
time, we are bound to declare that we will not permit 
the institution of slavery to exist in any territory which 
may result as an incident of the war." 

After speaking of the failure to secure the rights of 
free labor in the acquisition of Texas, he says: 

" But, sir, I discard, at once and forever, all talk about 
a compromise, on any parallel of latitude which can be 
named by man. To any proposition for taking territory 
now free, and sending there the shackles and manacles 
of slavery, I never will consent; never. No; cause the 
declaration to be placed on record on your journals, that 
it may be seen by those who shall come after us, and who 
shall be better able to carry out the doctrines we lay 
down. 5K >!< >ii I -will go for no compromise whatever." 

Annunciating the proposition which he would pass 
affirmatively, a proposition which should declare to the 
world that no territory now free shall ever come into the 
Union as slave territory, or be made slave territory, he 
says : 

" But, sir, suppose we fail, suppose we are not able to 
pass that declaratory act; we give you notice, that this 
is the ground upon which we plant ourselves, and it is 
the ground to be supported by other, by abler and better 
men, who shall hereafter come here as representatives of 
the North, At the North, sir, there is but one public 
sentiment on this subject. I do not mean to say by this 
that you may not here and there find a case of a shackled 
press muttering its dissent against the doctrines of free- 


men ; that you may not here and there find a doughface, 
with fetters on his lips, uttering his faint protest against 
it. But it is the doctrine of the North; it is the doctrine 
she -will march up to. She will live up to it in all com- 
ing time. And we give you notice, that you may not 
hereafter say we have taken you by surprise ; we give 
you notice, even if we are not able to carry it out now, 
that we shall have no shackles upon us when we come 
to vote for the admission of states to be formed out of 
this territory." 

In conclusion, Mr. Hamlin said: 

"A few more words and I have done. And in refer- 
ence to the stale, worn-out cry of dissolution of this 
Union, the time was when even my nerves were a little 
disturbed by it. That time has long since passed, and 
gentlemen of timid, weak nerves are now rallying around 
the standard, on the free side of the question, who were 
wont to rally on the other side. This cry of dissolution 
of the Union has become too old to be repeated, or to 
be entitled to much weight and confidence, iterated and 
reiterated as it is on every major and minor question. 
The Union can not be dissolved. The mutual interests 
and benefits enjoyed by the different sections would not 
permit it. The great AVest was bound to the South by 
its commerce, and could not be separated while its mighty 
rivers rolled to the Gulf of Mexico. The North and the 
South, too, were equally bound* by their commerce and 
exchange of productions. These were all ligaments that 
could not be rent or ruptured. The talk of it was folly, 
as well as madness. These great ties to which he had 
alluded, superadded to the patriotic devotion of our 
people to our government, would render our Union 
impregnable forever. A dissolution of this great and 
mighty republic, erected by the wisdom of our fathers, 


cemented by tlieir blood ! and for ■o-bat? Spread it out, 
that tbe public eye may gaze upon it; proclaim it, tbat 
tbe public ear may hear it; utter it from the groaning 
press, and thunder it from the pulpit: — A dissolution 
of the Union Lecause we will not extend the institution 
of negro slavery! Sir, the man who would utter that 
sentiment, should blush when it falls from his lips. 
Dissolve this great and mighty republic for this miser- 
able pretext. I agree with the gentleman from Indiana 
(3Ir. Petitt) that it is not the doctrine of the great and 
patriotic South. She has rallied — except the time when 
she was about to go to the death for sugar — she has 
rallied for this Union. She will stand by it, when others 
may desert it; stand by it in all coming time, and will 
regret that her sons proclaimed it to the world, in this 
nineteenth century, in this, the freest country on earth, 
that we are to dissolve this fair fabric for the miserable 
reason that we will not extend the institution which is 
a curse to all the states in which it exists. >K * >}: 

"In whatever may be the action and course of North- 
ern Representatives here, the great mass of the Northern 
people have but one impulse beating in their bosoms— 
to stand by this Union through good and evil report — 
to rally around the blessed stars and stripes of our glo- 
rious Confederacy wherever they float — to peril their 
lives and pour out their blood and treasure, if need be, 
in its defense; but to the institution of slavery they say, 
'Thus far hast thou gone — no further shalt thou go.' " 

AVe can not, in justice to Mr. Hamlin, omit any por- 
tion of the important speech, before referred to, made by 
him in the Senate of the United States, July 22d, 1848, 
on the bill reported from the Select Committee to estab- 
lish territorial governments in Oregon, New Mexico, and 
California, known as the Compromise Bill. Mr. Hamlia 


said : " I am admonished, Mr. President, by the ■whis- 
perings within these walls, that we are to be pressed to 
a decision of this great question at the present sitting. 
If, therefore, I would offer any suggestions, which will 
control my vote and command my action, I must embrace 
the present as the only opportunity. 

"The question which we are now called upon to de- 
cide is of momentous importance. Yet from its decision 
I have no disposition to shrink. It is, indeed, startling, 
that in the middle of the nineteenth century — in this 
model Republic, with the sun of liberty shining upon 
us, and while the governments of Europe are tottering 
to their base, from the lights reflected from our own, 
and while they are striking down the shackles of tyranny 
over the minds of men — we have been gravely discuss- 
ing the proposition, whether we will not create, by law, 
the institution of human slavery in territories now free. 
Such, in. direct terms, has been the question which we 
have had before us ; such is the issue, in fact, now. 
Sophistry can not evade it — metaphysics can not escape 
it. If there have been those who have heretofore be- 
lieved a discussion of this matter premature, all, or 
nearly all, have declared a willingness to meet the issue 
■when it should be practically presented. That crisis is 
now upon us, and, as men faithfully representing the 
constituencies who have sent us here, we must meet it. 
I had hoped — nay, I had believed — that there were 
those common grounds of concession, union, and har- 
mony, dictated by a lofty patriotism, upon which all 
would meet, and by which we would settle this ve.xed 
question. Of all things, I have been desirous that we 
might be able to arrive at such a decision of this mat- 
ter as would quiet the public mind, and be just to all 
the people of all the states. 


" The character of the debate, connected directly with 
this subject, within the last few weeks, must necessarily 
associate itself with the question immediately before us 
for our decision. This bill sprang from that discussion. 
They are one and the same. That was a bill for the 
establishment of a government for the Territory of Ore- 
gon. This includes also the Territories of California 
and New Mexico. As there is no connection in these 
matters, I had hoped to have seen each bill presented 
by itself — to stand upon its own merits, or fall upon its 
demerits. The Senate has decided that they shall not 
be separated, and we must meet it as it is presented. I 
will state the reasons why I am compelled to withhold 
from it my vote. 

" "VVe have acquired the territories over which this bill 
extends. They are embraced within the Union, and it 
now becomes our duty to legislate for them. It is 
proper and just that we should extend over them the 
laws of our country, and adopt such other legislation as 
the case shall demand. It is a solemn and responsible 
trust committed to our hands. We are about to shape 
and mold the character of these territories, which in time 
shall become a mighty empire. Their destiny is in our 
hands; the responsibility is upon us. "Whether that 
country shall present all the elements of a free govern- 
ment, in which man is elevated as an intellectual and 
moral being, or whether the despotism of slavery shall 
imprint its soil, are matters depending entirely upon us. 
Let wisdom guide us in the path of duty, and let not 
the light of the past be lost upon us in our action. We 
must act; it now presents a point from which no man 
can shrink. The issue can not be avoided ; and let no 
one imagine that an intelligent public can doubt as to 
the character of that issue. No matter in what form 


presented, it will be clearl}' uiulerstoocl. True, the bill, 
like the proposition discussed by the Senate, does not 
profess to establish slavery by law. It leaves it to ex- 
tend itself by the " silent operation " of the law, u-ithout 
restriction. It does not guarantee it; but will it not per- 
mit it? and, after it has found an existence, will it not 
demand a guarantee? Thus, without inhibition, will it 
not become certain and fixed by the process of time? 
Is it too much that freedom of the soil shall be asked 
and demanded from this aggressive march of slavery? 
I solemnly believe that this bill will allow of the exten- 
sion of slavery, as certainly as if it created it in express 
words. The bill, as I understand it, concedes practically 
all that the ultra doctrines of the South demand, or will, 
in its operations, end in that. Let us, then, erect a bar- 
rier to this tide of moral evil. 

" With such a bill as this, I can not hesitate to give 
the aid of my voice and my vote to arrest it. To know 
and understand the views of those who sustain it, will 
enable us to judge of its merits. The public mind will 
be startled through all the North ; it will thrill through 
all the country like an electric shock, that the acquisition 
of territory from a foreign power necessarily subjects it 
to the institution of slavery — that the flag of this Union 
carries that institution with it wherever it floats. This 
is a new principle in the doctrines of slavery propa- 
gandism. It is not the doctrine of the founders of the 
■republic. Democracy has been called progressive, but 
my word for it, she goes along in the old-fashioned 
stage-coach style, while this doctrine of slavery propa- 
gandisra has mounted the railroad cars, if it has not 
assumed the speed of electricity. I repeat, that it will' 
startle the North when it is known that it is gravely dis- 
cussed here that the Constitution of the United States. 


whenever it extends over territory which we may acquire, 
carries with it and establishes the institution ; that it in 
fact abrogates the laws of the free, and gives, instead, 
the power of servitude. This is .a doctrine of a later 
day. It is not the doctrine that accords with the ster- 
ling patriotism of the founders of our republic. Far 
from it 1 While such are the views of aggressive slavery 
which are promulgated here, it makes our path of duty 
as clear as sunlight. We must prevent this tide, by 
positive law, from spreading over our free soil. This 
extraordinary demand of this power leaves us but one 
course to pursue. We shall be faithless to ourselves — 
faithless to those we represent — rfaithless to our country, 
the age in which we live, and the principles of Chris- 
tianity, if we falter. We have but to press on ; and if, 
from any or various influences which shall be brought 
to bear against us, we shall not succeed, or shall suffer 
a partial defeat, yet — 

" 'Truth crushed to earth shall rise again — 
The eternal years of God are hers; 
AVhile Error, wounded, writhes in pain. 
And dies amid its worshipers.' 

"While I do not admit the force or justice of these 
demands, so pertinaciously insisted upon, yet they must 
be met, or they will be certain to prevail. In my judg- 
ment these doctrines are not deduced from the Consti- 
tution, but are in derogation of its letter and spirit; 
that instrument is, in all its terms, and in all its scope, 
an antislavery instrument. It was conceived, it was 
enacted, it was approved by the States of this Union, 
not in the spirit of extension or creation of slavery, but 
in a spirit which looked to the future emancipation of 
the slave in this country. It looked not to the exten- 


sion of the institution, but to the time when this anom- 
aly in our system of government should cease to exist. 

" I do not propose to follow gentlemen who have dis- 
cussed this point at length, nor do I propose to detain 
the Senate with the views and opinions which I enter- 
tain, and which I have drawn from the Constitution, 
and which have brought my mind to a different conclu- 
sion. It is necessary, however, that I state briefly my 
views; that I state the points without attempting to 
elaborate them. I deny, then, utterly and entirely, this 
new doctrine which has been presented to us, that the 
Constitution of the United States contains within its 
provisions a power to extend and establish over territory 
now free, the institution of slavery. If I understand 
the argument upon which it is based, it is simply this : 
that these territories are the property of the people of the 
United States; that, as such, they are open to settlement 
by all the people of the United States ; and that, as the 
Constitution recognized the institution of slavery at its 
adoption, it therefore authorizes the institution in those 
territories which belong to the United States, and in 
which the people of the United States may wish to re- 
side with their slaves. The Constitution does recognize 
slavery as existing, but it does not create or esiahlish it. 
Article 1, section 2, says : 

'"Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among 
the several states which may be included -within the Union, ac- 
cording to their respective numbers, which shall be determined 
by adding to tlie whole number of free persons, including those 
bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not 
taxed, three-fifths of all other persons.' 

" This, surely, is not establishing slavery by the Con- 
stitution ; it makes slaves a basis of representatioa and 


taxation. That is all. But in another place the Con- 
stitution declares, (article 4, section 2 :) 

" ' No person held to service or labor in one state by the laws 
thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law 
or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, 
but sl^all he delivered up on claim of the party to whom such 
service or labor may be due.' 

" From these extracts, it would seem to be perfectly 
clear, that the Constitution does not create or establish ; 
it only recognizes a class of persons held to service in 
the states by '■'■ the laws thereof,'^ not by virtue of the 
Constitution. That clause, when fairly construed, is 
only an inhibition upon the free states, that they shall 
not pass laws to prevent the owners of slaves from re- 
claiming them. The argument that slavery is recognized 
by the Constitution is used as equivalent to estahlishivg. 
The laws of the state support and maintain it, not the 
Constitution. It is a state institution, resting on the 
local law of the state, without the aid, without the sup- 
port, without the maintenance of the Constitution, in 
any way whatever. Yet in the face of all this, it is con- 
tended, and attempted to be proved by metaphysical rea- 
soning, that the Constitution extends beyond the states 
in which slavery is established ; that it carries it into 
free territories, and guarantees it there. Can this be so? 
and if so, where will the power end? If the institution 
is one which has its foundation in the Constitution, and 
not one resting upon laws of the states, where is the 
limit to its extension ? What is the next step in the 
application of the argument? After you have overrun 
your territories, what power can prevent the slaveholder 
from coming into the free states with his slaves? If 
his right is a Constitutional one ; if he rests his claim 


there, and is correct, a state law could not affect liim, 
because it would be in conflict with the Constitution. I 
can not see how this conclusion can be avoided. Tf the 
premises are correct, that result must follow. But I 
neither admit the premises nor the conclusion. The 
Constitution gives no right, it creates no right; it 
merely recognizes a right which is created by the laws 
of the state. That it is a local institution, there can be 
no doubt. The courts of nearly all the states have so 
decided. Authorities to any extent could be cited ; they 
are fiimiliar to all. The moment a slave goes beyond 
the limits of the state where slavery exists, he becomes 
free. It must, therefore, look alone to local laws for its 

"I hold that the Constitution, in and of itself, by its 
express language, authorizes Congress to inhibit this 
institution in our territories. I hold that the article in 
the Constitution which gives to Congress the power to 
make all needful rules and regulations respecting its 
territories, includes full and absolute authority over this 
whole matter. What is the language of this clause of 
the Constitution ? 

''Congress shall liave power to dispose of, and make «/Z need- 
ful rules and legulations respecting tlie territory or other prop- 
erty of the United States.' 

" What is this grant of power? 

" 1st. Congress may dispose of its public domain. 

"2d. It may make 'all needful rules and regulations 
respecting the territory or other property of the United 

" To dispose of, is to give, grant, or convey the public 
lands; but to make all needful rules and regulations, 
implies and carries with it full and ample power of legis- 


lation, in all cases where the Constitution does not other- 
wise prohibit. There can be no doubt as to the meaning 
of the terms 'rules and regulations.' The Constitution 
itself interprets them. A law is defined to be 'a rule of 
action prescribed by the supreme power in the state.' 
The Constitution gives Congress power to ' regulate com- 
merce'' — to make ' n<?es concerning captures' — 'to make 
rules for the government and regulation of the land and 
naval forces.' It also provides that persons escaping 
from one state into another, shall not be discharged from 
service in ' consequence of any law or regulation there- 
in.' In this case both terms are used — ' all needful rules 
and regulations ' — to give the widest scope to the power. 
But it is said that the concluding words in the clause 
quoted — ' or other property ' — limit and confine our le- 
gislation over the territory to the same as property. 
Grant that our territories are denominated as property, 
whether inhabited or not, does not the same power exist 
to pass all needful rules and regulations for its settle- 
ment and its final admission into the Union as a state? 
The power is clearly within the scope and meaning of 
that clause. 

"The history of the manner in which that clause be- 
came a part of the Constitution, would settle the question, 
if there could be a reasonable doubt. In the Articles of 
Confederation, by which the states were united, before 
the Constitution was formed, no such power was found. 
This grant of power was therefore made in the forming 
of the Constitution, for the purpose of giving Congress 
the power. The doings of the Convention, and the dec- 
larations of Mr. Madison, are clear upon this point. But, 
aside from this view of the case, we have the uninter- 
rupted use of the power by the General Government for 
about sixty years. Hardly a Congress has existed which 


has not acted upon this power, from 1787 to this time. 
This power has been exercised by Washington, Jefferson, 
Jackson, and Van Buren. The Supreme Court of the 
United States have settled this question. Congress has 
already exercised the power, and that power has been 
declared valid by the Supreme Court. 1 Peters' Kep., 
543, Chief Justice Marshall says: 

" ' Whatever may be the source wlicnce this power is derived, 
the possessiou of it is unquestionable.' 

"In 5th Peters' Rep., 44, again the Court says: 

" 'Rules and regulations respecting the territories of the United 

States, necessarily include complete jurisdiction.' 

'^ Again, the power is contained in the hill vpon which 
we are acting. It continues the laws of Oregon in force 
for three months after the meeting of the Legislature. 
It provides, in the Territories of California and'New Mex- 
ico, that the legislative power shall not ^mss any laics on 
the subject of religion or slavery. Here we use the power 
in its broadest sense. We inhibit the use or exercise of 
any poiocr on either of said subjects, and some others. 

"Could there be any doubt still remaining, and if we 
had no grant of power in the Constitution at all, there 
would yet be another source from which we must gather 
it. If the Constitution was silent, as it is not, yet under 
that power which we can acquire, we could most certainly 
govern. It matters little where you find the power to 
acquire; if you do acquire, you must have the power to 
govern. The first is the major, the second is the minor 
proposition. It would not be good sense to contend 
that we have a power to acquire public domain, and yet 
could not pass needful rules and regulations for its gov- 
ernment. The case, when stated, is its own best argu- 


ment. The sovereignty to acquire must contain the 
lesser power to govern. These are briefly tlie reasons 
which force conviction upon my mind. Casuists have 
been known to deny their own existence, and satisfac- 
torily to prove it to their own minds. That may be a 
plausible and a practical doctrine, when contrasted with 
the one that we have no power to govern our territories. 
It is 'too late,' at the noon of the nineteenth century, 
to deny that right, or for us to avoid the duty of acting. 
" Having the power to act, what is the responsible duty 
which I feel imposed upon me? (for I speak for none 
other.) It is, that I should exert all the power which 
the Constitution gives to exclude the institution of slav- 
ery from our territories now free, because it is a social, 
moral, and political evil. That such is its character, 
needs no argument to prove. They are conceded facts 
— supported by the declarations and admonitions of the 
best and wisest men of the South — 

" ' In thoughts that breathe, and words that burn. 

"I would resist the introduction of that institution ia 
justice to a superior race of men — men who are capable 
of a higher state of social and political refinement. I 
would institute such governments as are best calculated 
to advance the true interests of our own Caucasian race, 
and not degrade the dignity of labor by fastening upon 
it the incubus of slavery. I would resist it, because I 
would not invoke or use the name of Democracy to strike 
down, as with the iron mace of a despot, the principles 
of social equality and freedom. I would not profane the 
sacred name of Freedom, while using it, to impose a tyr- 
anny upon the minds or persons of men. Jefferson has 
said, that ' God has no attribute which can take sides 
with us in such a cause.' The eloquent Pinckney has de- 


clared, 'That the earth itself, which teems witli profusion 
under the cultivating hand of the free-born laborer, 
shrinks into barrenness from the contaminating sweat of 
the slave.' Sir, my course is a plain one, and clear from 
all doubt. Our position is unquestionable. We stand 
in defense of free soil, and resist aggressive slavery. 
And we demand enactments for the protection of free 
soil against this aggression. We will not disturb that 
institution, but we will stand in defense of the freedom 
of our soil as right in principle and beneficial to free 
white labor in all parts of our common country. 

"I have expressed the hope that we might have met 
upon a common ground upon the settlement of this ques- 
tion — a question which has agitated so much the public 
mind; and more did I hope for it when I listened to 
the patriotic breathings of the message of the President 
on this subject; when I listened to the language he used 
in his message, when he submitted the treaty of peace 
with Mexico to us, and called our attention to this mat- 
ter now before us for our ultimate decision. When I 
heard that language read by the Secretary, and recalled 
the history of the events to which he had invited our at- 
tention, I had hoped that the spirit of the fathers of the 
republic had not altogether departed, that the language 
of the Declaration of Independence had not become ob- 
solete. I had hoped that we would come up, and, in the 
language of the President, in a spirit of forbearance and 
of patriotism, have settled the question in a way which 
would have secured the approbation of the country. 

"Allow me to read from tho President's message: 

"'In organizing governments over these territories, fraught 
with such vast advantnges to every portion of our Union, I in- 
voke that spirit of concession, conciliation, and compromise in your 
deliberations, in which the Constitution was framed, in which it 


should be administered, and which is so indispensable to preserve 
and perpetuate the harmony and union of the states. AVe should 
never forget that this union of confederated states was established 
and cemented by kindred blood, and by the common toils, suffer- 
ings, dangers, and triumphs of all its parts, and has been the 
ever-augmenting source of our national greatness and of all our 

" This is the ground upon -which we should have met 
and decided the question. It is in this spirit of liberal 
and elevated patriotism that I had hoped that this ques- 
tion would have been settled, and that it would not have 
been merged in a mere question of power or of local or 
sectional character. I had hoped that we would have 
been guided by the lights of experience." 

Mr. Davis, of Mississippi. — "I would ask the senator, 
if he will allow me, whether he, as the representative of 
the people of Maine, is now ready, or has at any time 
been ready, to vote for the Missouri Compromise line be- 
ing extended until it terminates in the Pacific?" 

Mr. Hamlin. — " I frankly answer, no. Because the 
spirit of the Missouri Compromise was not the spirit 
which marked the wisdom of the framers of the Consti- 
tution. I would not vote to extend an arbitrary line, 
which permits the extension of the institution of slavery 
over any portion of the continent." 

Mr. Clayton. — "Did not the senator vote for the 
Missouri Compromise upon the annexation of Texas?" 

Mr. Hamlin. — " I did not." 

Mr. Clayton. — "He voted for the annexation of Texas, 
did he not?" 

Mr. Hamlin. — " I was in favor of the annexation of 
Texas, but I did not vote for the resolutions for the an- 
nexation of Texas which passed the House, nor did I 
vote for the Missouri Compromise contained in the reso- 


lutions. A senator from Illinois, (]Mr. Douglas,) then 
a member of the House, offered the Compromise there. 
It was adopted, but I voted against its adoption, and 
against the resolutions after it was incorporated into 
them. The resolutions came to the Senate, and the dis- 
tinguished senator from Missouri (Mr. Benton) oflfered 
another and distinct resolution to accomplish the annexa- 
tion of Texas. Mr. Hamlin said such was his recollec- 
tion, and he would inquire of the senator of Missouri 
whether he offered the alternate resolution?" 

Mr. Benton. — "It is of very little importance who 
offered the amendment. 

Mr. Hamlin. — " Yes, it is of very little importance 
who offered it. All knew that it originated with that 
distinguished senator. For that resolution I voted ; 
and deeply is it to be regretted that the annexation had 
not been accomplished as that resolution provided. The 
treasure of the country would have been saved, and the 
lives of our citizens preserved. We should have had no 
Mexican war. I did not then vote for the Missouri Com- 
promise, and I would not vote for it to-day. I would 
vote for no arbitrary line, even if it took the southern 
boundary of New Mexico and California, running to the 
coast of the Pacific. I would vote for no rigid fixed 
line, whether upon a direct parallel of latitude or wind- 
ing, because it would lead to the very difficulties which 
Mr. Jefferson, in his letter recognizing the Missouri 
Compromise in 1820, alluded to with so much force, 
when he said that it would create sectional parties — that 
it would strike upon the car ' like a fire-bell at night,' 
But this line of 36° 30', running to the Pacific, has other 
and insuperable objections, besides those already named. 
The superiority of our race and political institutions, 
with the events of the past, teach us, with unerring car- 


tainty, that our government is destined to extend over 
this country. Establish this line, and you doom the 
■whole of the continent south to the curse of slavery, 
■when it shall become a part of our Union. You estab- 
lish it on a section of country over which free labor can 
not pass. That will be the inevitable result of such a 
line. Can it be doubted that such is the design ?" 

Mr. Clayton. — "The senator speaks of compromise; 
will he tell us what compromise he alludes to?" 

Mr. Hamlin. — " I am coming to that, and should 
have done so if I had not been diverted by these inter- 
rogatories. In the language of the President's message, 
I would have our deliberations consummated in ' that 
spirit of concession, conciliation, and compromise in 
which the Constitution was framed.' Then we would 
have no difficulty in the settlement of this question. 
What is the history of the times cotemporaneous with the 
formation of that instrument? The Constitution was 
adopted by the Convention, September 17, 1787. Vir- 
ginia, in the spirit of wisdom and patriotism worthy of 
her ancient fame, had ceded to the General Government 
all her lands lying northwest of the Ohio river, and be- 
ing all the lands lying within the limits of the Union. 
On the thirteenth day of July, 1787, and while the Con- 
vention was in session to form a Constitution, Virginia 
entered into a compact with the States, and established 
what is known as the ordinance of '87, forever excluding 
slavery from all that country. Thomas Jefferson, the 
patriot, statesman, and sage, was the originator of the 
principle in that ordinance which excluded slavery from 
that territory. Nay, it went further; it abolished slav- 
ery there and made it free soil. I think, too, that the 
history of these times will satisfy all, that this noble and 
patriotic act was designed to aid in the formation of the 


Constitution by acting upon tlie Convention. In the 
same spirit of restriction, too, did that Convention 
authorize Congress to inhibit the importation of slaves 
into the United States after the year 1808. This is the 
history of those times — this is the spirit of conciliation 
and comjiromise that mark those days ; let us adopt it 
now, and our work is done. We need not go so far in 
the rule which we will adopt. The ordinance was an act 
of abolition. I would not abolish slavery in the states, 
and, so help me God, I would not abolish freedom in our 
territories. Let us have nothing of abolition, either 
north or south, nor fix lines which shall divide a country 
without regard to its character or construction — which 
shall create sectional parties, the worst and most to be 
deplored of all. But let the character of the country be 
determined and settled as it shall be on its acquisition. 
If free, so let it remain, and so let it be preserved. If 
slave territory, so then let it continue without our action. 
When we look at former acquisitions, it would seem 
that the South should not object to this manner of com- 
promise. From our former acquisitions, seven slave 
states have been added to this Union, and three more of 
the largest class provided for, to be carved out of Texas. 
One free state only has been added from these acquisi- 
tions. Justice to the North demands this course in a 
settlement of this question. Here is a compromise upon 
which all can meet, and one which can not create these 
sectional divisions which all must deprecate. If I have 
a desire in my heart above all others, it is that this vexed 
question shall be settled — that it shall be taken from the 
vortfjx of political conflicts, and the people quieted. Ad- 
here to the ancient landmarks, conform to the settled 
usage of the country, and such will be the happy result. 
So much upon our power and duty to act. 


" The bill before us is objectionable in its provisions, 
as well as in the manner in which it is presented. It 
comes in a trianp;ular shape, with Oregon as the base, and 
California and New Mexico for its side lines. Oregon 
has no connection with the other territories, and why, 
then, are they chained and thus connected together? 
Why not let each stand by itself? Why make the one 
depend upon the fate of the other? I can see no suffi- 
cient reason. For years the people of Oregon have been 
demanding a government, and bill after bill has passed the 
other House, but as often as they have reached this body 
they have been either permitted to sleep ' the sleep that 
knows no waking,' or they have been defeated by those 
who now claim to be the most vigilant sentinels. Dur- 
ing this session, and within a few weeks past, Congress 
has been admonished, in a message from the President, 
that savage hordes were committing depredations upon 
the whites, and the bill was not passed. The bill was 
before the Senate, and in accordance with the prayer of 
the people of Oregon, it contained a section inhibiting 
slavery from the territory. It was the general impres- 
sion that that section could not be stricken out. A 
motion was made to recommit to a committee of eight, 
which was carried, and the bill comes back to us chained 
to the other territories, and with that section in the bill 
restricting slavery in Oregon so modified that it secures 
freedom for three months only after the first Territorial 
Legislature shall meet. This bill is called by some a 
compromise ; all that I can see which entitles it to that 
name, is, that it does provide that the laws in Oregon 
which exclude slavery shall remain in force for three 
months. A compromise, indeed ! " 

Mr. Clayton. — " If the senator will allow me, it may 
not be inappropriate to make an explanation upon this 


point concerning ■n'hich an inquiry has been made. 
Section 12 provitles that the laws now existing in the 
Territory of Oregon shall remain as they are until three 
months after the first meeting of the Legislature of the 
Territory. The senator from Maine understands, of 
course — I take it for granted that is his doctrine — that 
the Legislature of Oregon will have the power upon the 
subject of slavery. Gentlemen who argue as he does, 
argue that the Territorial Legislature has full power over 
this subject. Now, take the sixth section in connection 
with the twelfth. The sixth section provides that the 
legislative power of the Territory shall extend to all 
rightful subjects of legislation, consistent with the Con- 
stitution and the provisions of this act. The gentleman 
holds that the Legislature can, consistently with the 
provisions of the Constitution, legislate on the subject 
of slavery. If it can do this, it will do it. If it can not 
do this consistently with the Constitution, it ought not 
to do it. Now, take the twelfth and sixth sections 
together, and the whole will be, I think, plain to the 
mind of any one. I do not see how gentlemen, advocat- 
ing the opinions which are advocated by the gentleman 
from Maine, can object to this provision of the bill." 

Mr. Hamlin. — " From the explanation which the hon- 
orable chairman of the committee has given, I apprehend 
that I did not misunderstand the scope and meaning of 
the twelfth section of this bill, and if the gentleman had 
listened to the conclusion which I drew from that section, 
taken in connection with the sixth, he would have had 
no occasion to interrupt me. I repeat, then, that the 
compromise of this bill is one which concedes that the 
•fundamental law now existing in the Territory of Oregon 
shall remain in force for three months, and for only three 
montlis. That is the only concession which I can find in 


the bill, and if for that it is to be taken as a coinpro- 
niise bill, why then let it be called such. The twelfth 
section concedes that the laws of the Territory shall re- 
main in force for three months after the Territorial 
Government shall have met. They will then cease and 
be no longer in force, unless the Territorial Grovernment 
shall see fit to re-enact them, and send them here for the 
approval of Congress. Now, if it were intended as a 
compromise, why repeal all the laws of the Territory? 
Why was the law regarding the esclusion of slavery not 
permitted to remain in force until the Territorial Legis- 
lature should see fit to change it? Why abrogate, and 
then compel them to re-enact their laws ? Sir, it is 
not worth the name of compromise. This is the funda- 
mental objection. It repeals all the laws of the Territory 
after three months, and the seventeenth section provides 
that — 

"'AH laws passed by the Legislative Assembly shall be sub- 
mitted to the Congress of the United States, and if disapproved, 
shall be null and of no effect;^ 

thus making the legislative acts of Oregon depend on 
our approval or disapproval. Is it not, then, literally 
true, that this bill concedes the free principle to Oregon 
for only three months, after which it must depend upon 
action here ? So I understand it. 

"There is, to my mind, another and most peculiar 
feature in this bill, rendering it most inconsistent in its 
character. It creates for Oregon a territorial govern- 
ment, and gives it a Legislature elected by the people 
thereof. It is a government in which the people partici- 
pate. Every 

"'Free white male inhabitant above the age of twenty-one 
years, who shall have been a resident of said Territoi-y at the 


time of the passage of this act, shall be entitled to vote at the first 

"And it gives the Legislature power over all rightful 
subjects of legislation. In California and New Mexico 
this bill deprives the people of all power, and of any 
participation in the government over them. It creates 
an odious oligarchy over that people of the most objec- 
tionable kind. It sets up a government, not with the 
consent and participation of the people, but rather in 
defiance of their just rights. 

" ' Sect. 26. The legislative power of said Territory', shall, until 
Congress shall otherwise provide, be vested in the Governor, Sec- 
retary, and Judges of the Supreme Court, who, or a majority of 
them, shall have power to pass any law for the administration of 
justice in said Territory, which shall not be repugnant to this act, 
or inconsistent with the laws and Constitution of the United 
States. But no law shall be passed interfering with the primary 
disposal of the soil, respecting an establishment of religion, or 
respecting slavery; and no tax shall be imposed upon the prop- 
erty of the United States, nor shall the lands or other property 
of non-residents be taxed higher than the lands or other property 
of residents. All the laws shall be submitted to the Congress of 
the United States, and, if disapproved, shall be null and void.' 

" What good reason there may be for intrusting full 
power and sovereignty to the people of Oregon, while you 
wholly deny it to California, I do not understand. Why 
adopt one system for Oregon, and another for California? 
Is it said that the people of California are not yet suited 
to participate in a free government or in the enactments 
of laws? If such even were the fact, wliy lolioUy exclude 
them from all rights? But Senators know, that at this 
day there are some five or six thousand American citi- 
zens there, and they are ruthlessly excluded. Is their 
capacity for free government to be mistrusted ? Is it 


not rather from the fact tliat they would set up a free 
government indeed, that they are deprived of all power? 
I know there is a mixed population in California, and so 
it is in Oregon ; but the same limitations and restric- 
tions which apply in one case can be applied in the other. 
The right of voting has been confined in Oregon to the 
"free white inhabitants." The same limitation may 
apply to California. No sound distinction can be drawn 
in these cases, yet a republican government is estab- 
lished in one case, and an oligarchy in the others. 
These people were but a short time since the subjects of 
a foreign power, and sound policy would dictate that we 
should not set up a despotism over them. Is it not 
better to authorize our own people to participate in this 
government, and allow the free white Castilian race the 
same power? Is it not sound policy as well as correct 
in principle ? Will it not fraternize them with our peo- 
ple and our Government? On the other hand, without 
power in the local laws by which they are governed, will 
they not be alien to our Union, and unfraternal to our 
people ? It must not be forgotten that all laws which 
would be passed in California, as in Oregon, would be 
subject to the approval or disapproval by Congress. 
This system is wholly repugnant to our form of govern- 
ment. It is in violation of that fundamental principle 
which recognizes the 'consent of the governed/ as the 
basis of government. "We are told that such is the early 
form of our territorial governments. Be it so. It is 
not the form of later years. If it were, the application 
should be uniform, not applied to the free white popula- 
tion of one territory and not to another. 

The settlement of the question of slavery by this bill, 
it is said, is to be determined by the Supreme Court, I 


think, if that be the case, this is the first instance in the 
history of legislation where a question purely of a polit- 
ical character has been transferred to the judiciary. It 
is avoiding what necessarily belongs to us to determine. 
Is this the part of wisdom, or manly dignity and firm- 
ness, to avoid the settlement of a question which is 
political, and which belongs to us ? I think not. We 
are told that the Supreme Court of the United States 
can determine whether slavery will exist there or not, if 
this bill shall pass. That by the twenty-second section 
of this bill, a right to appeal is granted from the Supreme 
Court of the territories to the Supreme Court of the 
United States. Suppose it to be so. What would the 
right of appeal be worth practically ? Suppose slavery 
steals in there, as it will, how can the slave avail him- 
self of this right of appeal ? Who is to aid him, in the 
first instance, to obtain his writ of habeas corpus, oa 
which to try the question of his right to freedom ? And 
if he should get that process and take the first step, how 
could he appeal? Who would be his surety? and, at 
the distance of three thousand miles from Washington, 
by what means could he reach the court ? This right of 
appeal, if it existed by law, could have no practical effect 
whatever. It leaves all unsettled, in fact, while two 
lines in a law we may pass, by simply inhibiting the in- 
stitution, will settle all. But, sir, the bill, in fixct, does 
not grant even a right to appeal in a case of this kind. 
Though the right of appeal in certain cases is granted, 
it does not include this case. 

" The bill establishes 'a Supreme Court, District Court, 
and Probate Courts.' The bill also provides that — 

"'Writs of error and appeals from tlie final decisions of said 
Supreme Court shall be allowed, and may be taken to the Supreme 


Judicial Court of tlie United States, in the same manner and under 
the same regulations as from the Circuit Court of the United 
)5 tales.' 

" To understand correctly -what are the rights of ap- 
peal granted in this bill, it becomes necessary to see in 
what cases, and in what manner, writs of error and ap- 
peals are granted from the Circuit Courts to the Supreme 
Judicial Court of the United States. Then we can 
learn whether there is, in fact, anything practical in this 
right of appeal. This bill does not determine, in words, 
how appeals shall be had, but refers to existing laws 
granting writs of error and appeals. What are those 
laws? Section 22, chapter 20, United States Laws, reg- 
ulates the manner of granting appeals from the Circuit 
Court to the Supreme Judicial Court of the United States. 
It says : 

" 'Final judgments and decrees, in civil actions and suits in 
equity, in Circuit Courts, brought there by original process, or re- 
moved there from tlie courts of the several states, and removed 
there by appeal from a District Court, where the matter in dispute 
exceeds the sum or value of two thousand dollars, exclusive of costs, 
may be re-examined and reversed or affirmed in the Supreme Court.' 

" The right of appeal, then, is given only when the 
property exceeds in value two thousand dollars. As that 
would be greater than the value of a person who might 
sue out his writ of habeas corpus, no right of appeal 
would exist. 

" But, on this point, we are not left to the doubtful or 
uncertain construction of a statute, although the language 
of that statute is, to my mind, clear and positive. The 
Supreme Judicial Court of the United States, our high- 
est legal tribunal, have settled and adjudicated that 
question. It meets this case precisely. The case to 


•wliich I refer is one involving the right of appeal from 
the decision of the Circuit Court to the Supreme Court, 
on the process of the habeas corpus. Barry rs^. Mereein 
et. al., 5 Howard's Rep., 103. This case was decided at 
January term, 1847 : 

"'This court has no appellate power in a case where the Cir- 
cuit Court refused to grant a writ of habeas corpus, prayed for 
by a father to take his infant child out of the custody of its 

" 'The judgment of a Circuit Court can be reversed oiili/ where 
the matter in dispute exceeds the sum or value of hvo thousand 
dollars. It must have a known and certain value, which can be 
proved and calculated in the ordinary business transactions.' 

" So the Court has decided this case. No right of 
appeal could lie. If it did, every man knows that it 
•would be utterly useless as a practical matter. It would 
not, and could not reach the case of a person held to 
service — no right of trial can exist beyond the limits of 
the Territory by this bill. It does not meet the case. 
But even if it did apply to this case, it would be prac- 
tically useless. If it could apply to one case, it would be 
powerless in thousands. It is all delusive. It docs not 
allow an appeal at all. 

" How, then, stands the case? You establish a gov- 
ernment in California, a governor and secretary are ap- 
pointed by the President, and three judges, who are not 
removable, and to them you commit the legislative power 
of the Territory ; you deny them the power to legislate 
at all upon the subjects of religion or slavery ! even if 
every person in the Territory should desire to exclude 
the latter. You deprive the people of the right to act 
at all — you refuse to act here, and one-half of the Senate 
nearly denying the power. Is not this virtually build- 
ing up a wall around that Territory, which will and must 


Berve as a protection to this institution ? What is the 
origin of shivery ? It is never created by law ; it steals 
into territory, and then claims a law to recognize it. 
The senator from Virginia (Mr. Mason) says : 

" ' There never was a law in Virginia creating slavery, and I 
doubt if ihere has been such a law in any of the Southern States.' 

" Such is the fact. There is no law creating it. It 
exists by brute force, in the violation of the rights of 
everything human or Divine. Were we called upon, 
could we justify it if we thus surrender up this vast 
country — these great principles of human freedom, and 
exclude from it the free white labor of the whole land? 
That this bill will do it, there can be no doubt, as it 
restricts that power which alone could prevent it. It 
inhibits all power in the territory from preventing the 
lawless spread of slavery. That inhibition will prove a 
guarantee. Or, certain it is, that while you thus prevent 
the use of all power to exclude slavery from the territory, 
it would be as certain as the decree of fate, that it would 
steal in, as it has, into all the territories, and then claim- 
ing vested rights, it would demand and obtain laws secur- 
ing and recognizing it. Such has been its history in 
every state where it now exists ; such will be the result 
here if this bill shall become a law. 

" The senator from Delaware gave us the extent of 
the area included in those territories north of the paral- 
lel of 36° 30'. I was unable to get the precise amount ; 
out if I am right in my recollection, the aggregate of 
territory north of that parallel was about one million five 
hundred thousand square miles." 

Mr. Clayton. — " One million six hundred thousand 
square miles." 

Mr. Hamlin. — " And that south of that parallel 


the area was about three hundred thousand square 

Mr. Clayton. — " Two hundred and sixty-two thou- 
sand square miles." 

Mr. Hamlin. — " Now, sir, we have not the Missouri 
Compromise before us for discussion. What was the 
object of the gentleman, then, in presenting that table 
of figures ? Why did not the gentleman, in connection 
with it, present other facts and figures for our considera- 
tion ? Why did he not state, that in our free states the 
population is about twelve millions, and in the slave states 
about eight millions ? Why did he not present another 
element — the relative proportion of territory between the 
free and the slave states? I have not made an exact 
calculation on that point, but I believe that the propor- 
tion is about as nine to four, the free states having an 
area of less than four and a half millions of square miles, 
and that the slave states embrace an area of more than 
nine millions of square miles, twice as great as that of 
the free states. Why did not the gentleman from Dela- 
ware go still further into the statistical view of the sub- 
ject, and show tliat even with every inch of territory 
down to the southern limit of California and New Mexico, 
somewhere between the years eighteen hundred and sixty 
and eighteen hundred and seventy, under the operation 
of the laws which have heretofore governed our increase, 
the population of the free states would be more circum- 
scribed, more to the square mile, than that of the slave 

Mr. Clayton. — " The honorable senator has so re- 
peatedly called upon me, that I must again answer. As 
chairman of the committee, I stated its proceedings. I 
stated that the Missouri Compromise was proposed; that 
Northern gentlemen voted against it^ and Southern 


gentlemen for it; and that, if adopted, the effect of it 
would have been to give one million six hundred thou- 
sand square miles to the North, and two hundred and 
sixty-two thousand square miles to the South." 

Mr. PIamlin. — " I do not object to the gentleman's 
statement, but I merely expressed the opinion that it 
would be much more pertinent to the occasion, had it 
been accompanied by some of those interesting statistics 
to which I alluded. 

" There are other objections to the bill to which I 
would gladly allude, but I have already detained the 
Senate longer than I designed or anticipated. Looking 
to the lights of other days — the patriots of other times 
— the eloquent warnings which we have had from our 
Washington, Madison, our Jefferson, our Mason, ay, 
and from our own Pinckney, too, and all that long list 
of patriotic men of the South who have adorned this 
Union, who have pointed out the evils that would come 
upon us by perpetuating and extending this institution, 
I owe it to the constituents whom I represent, to our 
posterity, to all the toiling millions who are seeking an 
asylum in our land, to embrace this opportunity of oppos- 
ing, with unshaken firmness, any attempt to introduce or 
permit this institution to flow into territory now free. 
Let these vast and fertile regions be preserved for the 
cultivation of free labor and free men, so well calculated 
to advance the arts of civilization. Do this, and the 
teeming and busy millions of future ages shall bless our 
acts with grateful hearts." 

On the 12th of June, 1856, Mr. Hamlin relinquished 
his position as chairman of the Committee on Commerce, 
and his allegiance with the party with which he had so 
long been connected, declaring his reasons for this ac 


tion in a speech which created a profound sensation in 
the Senate and the country. Mr. Hamlin said: 

"Mr. President, I rise for a purpose purely personal, 
such as I have never before risen for in the Senate. I 
desire to explain some matters personal to myself and 
to my own future course in public life, 

Several Senators. — "Go on." 

]\Ir. Hamlin. — "I ask the Senate to excuse me from 
further service as chairman of the Committee on Com- 
merce. I do so because I feel that my relations here- 
after will be of such a character as to render it proper 
thai I should no longer hold that position. I owe this 
act to the dominant majority in the Senate. When I 
cease to harmonize with the majority, or tests are applied 
by that party with which I have acted to which I can 
not submit, I feel that I ought no longer to hold that 
respectable position. I propose to state briefly the rea- 
sons which have brought me to that conclusion. 

" During nine years of service in the Senate, I have 
preferred rather to be a working than a talking member, 
and so I have been almost a silent one. On the sub- 
jects which have so much agitated the country, Senators 
know that I have rarely uttered a word. I love my 
country more than I love my party. I love my country 
above my love for any interest that can too deeply agi- 
tate or disturb its harmony. I saw, in all the exciting 
scenes and debates through which we have passed, no 
particular good that would result from my active inter- 
mingling in them. My heart has often been full, and 
the impulses of that heart have often been felt upon my 
lips, but I have repressed them there. 

"Sir, I hold that the repeal of the Missouri Compro- 
mise was a gross moral and political wrong, unequaled 


in the annals of the legislation of this country, and 
hardly equaled in the annals of any other free country. 
Still, sir, with a desire to promote harmony, and concord, 
and brotherly feeling, I was a quiet man under all the 
exciting debates which led to that fatal result. I be- 
lieved it wrong then ; I can see that wrong lying broad- 
cast all around us now. As a wrong, I opposed that 
measure, not indeed by my voice, but with consistent, and 
steady, and uniform votes. I so resisted it in obedience 
to the dictates of my own judgment. I did it also 
cheerfully, in compliance with the instructions of the 
Legislature of Maine, which were passed by a vote almost 
unanimous. In the House of Representatives of Maine, 
consisting of one hundred and fifty-one members, only 
six, I think, dissented; and in the Senate, consisting of 
thirty-one members, only one member non-concurred. 

" But the Missouri restriction was abrogated. The 
portentous evils that were predicted have followed, and 
are yet following, along in its train. It was done, sir, 
in violation of the pledges of that party with which I 
have always acted, and with which I have always voted. 
It was done in violation of solemn pledges of the Pres- 
ident of the United States, made in his inaugural address. 
Still, sir, I was disposed to suffer the wrong, until I 
should see that no evil results were flowing from it. 
We were told by almost every senator who addressed us 
upon that occasion, that no evil results would follow; 
that no practical difi'erence in the settlement of the 
country, and the character of the future state, would 
take place, whether the act were done or not. I have 
waited calmly and patiently to see the fulfillment of that 
prediction ; and I am grieved, sir, to say now, that they 
have at least been mistaken in their predictions and 
promises. They all have signally failed. 


" That senators might have voted for that measure 
under the belief then expressed, and the predictions to 
which I have alluded, I can well understand. But how 
senators can now defend that measure amid all its evils, 
which are overwhelming the land, if not threatening it 
with a conflagration, is what I do not comprehend. The 
whole of the disturbed state of the country has its rise 
in, and is attributable to, that act alone, nothing else. 
It lies at the foundation of all our misfortunes and 
commotions. There would have been no incursions by 
Missouri borderers into Kansas, either to establish slavery 
or control elections. There would have been no neces- 
sity, either, for others to have gone there partially to aid 
in preserving the country in its then condition. All 
would have been peace there. Had it not been done, 
that repose and quiet which pervaded the public mind 
then, would hold it in tranquillity to-day. Instead of 
startling events we should have quiet and peace within 
our borders, and that fraternal feeling which ought to 
animate the citizens of every part of the Union toward 
those of all other sections. 

" Sir, the events that are taking place around us are 
indeed startling. They challenge the public mind and 
appeal to the public judgment; they thrill the public 
nerve as electricity imparts a tremulous motion to the 
telegraphic wire. It is a period when all good men 
should unite in applying the proper remedy to secure 
peace and harmony to the country. Is this to be done 
by any of us, by remaining associated with those who 
have been instrumental in producing these results, and 
who now justify them? I do not see my duty lying in 
that direction. 

" I have, while temporarily acquiescing, stated here 
and at home, everywhere, uniformly, that when the tests 


of those measures were applied to me as one of party 
fidelity, I would sunder them as flax is sundered at the 
touch of fire. I do it now. 

" The occasion involves a question of moral duty; and 
self-respect allows me no other line of duty but to follow 
the dictates of my own judgment and the impulses of 
my own heart. A just man may cheerfully submit to 
many enforced humiliations, but a self-degraded man has 
ceased to be worthy to be deemed a man at all. 

"Sir, what has the recent Democratic Convention at 
Cincinnati done? It has indorsed the measure 1 have 
condemned, and has sanctioned its destructive and ruin- 
ous effects. It has done more, vastly more. That prin- 
ciple or policy of territorial sovereignty which once had, 
and which I suppose now has, its advocates within these 
■walls, is stricken down ; and there is an absolute denial 
of it in the resolution of the Convention, if I can draw 
right conclusions — a denial equally to Congress, and even 
to the people of the territories, of the right to settle 
the question of slavery therein. On the contrary, the 
Convention has actually incorporated into the platform 
of the Democratic party that doctrine which, only a few 
years ago, met nothing but ridicule and contempt, here 
and elsewhere, namely : that the flag of the Federal 
Union, under the Constitution of the United States, 
carries slavery wherever it floats. If this baleful prin- 
ciple be true, then that national ode which inspires us 
always as on a battle-field should be rewritten by Drake, 
and should read thus : 

'"Forever float that standard sheet; 

Where breathes the foe but falls before us, 
With Slavery's soil beneath our feet, 

And Slavery's banner streaming o'er us ?' 

" Now, sir, what is the precise condition in which this 


matter is left by the Cincinnati Convention ? I do not 
design to trespass many moments on the Senate; but 
allow me to read and offer a very few comments upon 
some portions of the Democratic platform. The first 
resolution that treats upon the subject is in these words — 
I read just so much of it as is applicable to my present 
remarks : 

" 'That Congress lias no power under the Constitution to inter- 
fere with or control the domestic institutions of the several states, 
and that all such states are the sole and proper judges of every- 
thing appertaining to their own affairs not prohibited by the 

" I take it that this language, thus far, is language 
which meets a willing and ready response from every 
senator here; certainly it does from me. But in the 
following resolution I find these words : 

" ' Resolved, That the foregoing proposition covers, and was 
intended to embrace, the whole subject of slavery agitation ia 

" The first resolution which I read was adopted years 
ago in Democratic conventions. The second resolution 
which I read was adopted in subsequent years, when a 
difi'erent state of things had arisen, and it became neces- 
sary to apply an abstract proposition relating to the 
states to the territories. Hence the adoption of the 
language contained in the second resolution which I 
have read. 

" Now, sir, I deny the position thus assumed by the 
Cincinnati Convention. In the language of the Senator 
from Kentucky, (Mr. Crittenden,) so ably and so appro- 
priately used, on Tuesday last, I hold that the entire and 
unqualified sovereignty of the territories is iu Congress. 


That is my judgment; but this resolution brings the 
territories precisely within the same limitations which 
are applied to the states in the resolution which I first 
read. The two taken together deny to Congress any 
power of legislation in the territories. 

" Follow on, and let us see what remains. Adopted 
as a part of the present platform, and as necessary to a 
new state of things, and to meet an emergency now ex- 
isting, the Convention says: 

" ' The American Democracy recognize and adopt the principles 
contained in the organic laws establishing the Territories of Kan- 
sas and Nebraska, as embodying the only sound and safe solution 
of the slavery question, upon which the great national idea of the 
people of this whole country can repose, in its determined con- 
servatism of the Union — non-interference by Congress with slavery 
in states and territories.' 

Then follows the last f^solution : 

"'Ecsolvcd, That we recognize the right of the people of all the 
territories, including Kansas and Nebraska, acting tlirough the 
fairly expressed will of the majority of actual residents, and 
whenever the number of their inhabitants justifies it, to form a 
Constitution with or without domestic slavery, and be admitted 
into the Union upon terms of perfect equality with the other 

" Take all these resolutions together, and the deduc- 
tion which, we must necessarily draw from them is a 
denial to Congress of any power whatever to legislate 
upon the subject of slavery. The last resolution denies 
to the people of the territory any power over that sub- 
ject, save when they shall have a sufficient number to 
form a Constitution and become a state, and also denies 
that Congress has any power over the subject ; and so 
the resolutions hold that this power is at least in abey- 


ance while the territory is in a territorial condition. 
That is the only conclusion which you can draw from 
these resolutions. Alas ! for short-lived territorial sov- 
ereignty. It came to its death in the house of its 
friends ; it was buried by the same hands which had 
given it baptism ! 

" But, sir, I did not rise for the purpose of discussing 
these resolutions, but only to read them, and state the 
action which I propose to take in view of them. I 
may — I probably shall — take some subsequent occasion, 
when I shall endeavor to present to the Senate and the 
country a fair account of what is the true issue presented 
to the people for their consideration and decision. 

" My object now is to show only that the Cincinnati 
Convention has indorsed and approved of the repeal of 
the Missouri Compromise, from which so many evils have 
already flowed; from which, IJeir, more and worse evils 
must yet be anticipated. It would, of course, be expected 
that the presidential nominee of that Convention would 
accept, cordially and cheerfully, the platform prepared 
for him by his party friends. No person can object to 
that. There is no equivocation on his part about the 
matter. I beg leave to read a short extract from a 
speech of that gentleman, made at his own home, within 
the last few days. In reply to the Keystone Club, which 
paid him a visit there, Mr. Buchanan said : 

" 'Gentlemen, iwo weeks since I should have made you a longer 
speech, but now I have been placed on a platform of which I most 
heartily approve, and tliat can speak for me. Being the repre- 
sentative of the great Democratic party, and not simply James 
Buchanan, I must square my conduct according to the platform 
of the party, and insert no new plank, nor take one from it.' 

" These events leave to nie only one unpleasant duty, 


^vliich is to declare here that I can maintain political 
associations with no party that insists upon such doc- 
trines; that I can support no man for President who 
avows and recognizes thera ; and that the little of that 
power with which God has endowed me shall be employed 
to battle manfully, firmly, and consistently for his defeat, 
demanded as it is by the highest interests of the country 
which owns all my allegiance." 

On the 9th and 10th of March, 1858, Mr. Hamlin made 
a long and powerful speech on the bill for the admission 
of Kansas into the Union as a state. In that speech, he 
replied to Senator Hammond, of South Carolina, who had 
reflected upon the character of the laboring classes at the 
North. He said : 

" I was remarking that the senator from South Caro- 
lina had mistaken the character of our laboring men — I 
speak of those who are ' hireling manual laborers,' for that 
is his expression, in its modified form. I think the sena- 
tor has fallen into an error in his estimate of the charac- 
ter of our laborers, and it may have arisen from a variety 
of causes. Our government was indeed an experiment. 
It was established for the purpose of testing the capacity 
of man for self-government. Anterior to that period of 
time, during which governments had existed which were 
called free, there had been none which had founded their 
institutions upon the principles upon which ours were 
proposed to be based. Under the freest governments 
that had ever existed, there were prerogatives and rights 
secured to power, and laws creating privileged classes : 
but it was the object and intention of the founders of our 
government to do away with such a state of things, which 
had existed theretofore in every government in the world. 
Ours was to be a government resting on the consent of 
the governed. That was the object. We sought to take 


avray the prerogatives whicli gathered around the govern- 
ing power, and to establish a government among us that 
should elevate man intellectually and politically to that 
sphere and to that position to which he was justly entitled. 

" When the senator from South Carolina undertakes to 
draw imaginary distinctions between classes of laborers, he 
goes back to the old, the worn, the rotten, and the dis- 
carded systems of ages that have long since passed. I 
tell that senator what is true, that we draw no im.aginary 
distinctions between our different classes of laborers — 
none whatever. ' Manual laborers ! ' Well, sir, who are 
the manual laborers of the North, that are degraded and 
placed beside the slave of the South by the senator from 
South Carolina? Who are our manual laborers? Sir, all 
classes in our community are manual laborers ; and, to a 
greater or less extent, they are hireling manual laborers. 
They constitute, I affirm, a majority of our community — • 
those who labor for compensation. I do not know', T con- 
fess I can not understand, that distinction which allows a 
man to make a contract for the service of his brains, but 
denies him the right to make a contract for the service 
of his hands. There is no distinction whatever between 
them. We draw none ; we make none. Who are that 
class of citizens in our community who are its hirelings? 
That is the term. I do not know whether he designs it 
as opprobrious ; but that is the term with which he desig- 
nates our laborers of the North. This is modern democ- 
racy ! 

'' Who are our ' hireling manual laborers ' of the 
North ? Sir, I can tell that senator that they are not 
the mud-sills of our community. They are the men who 
clear away our forests. They are the men who make the 
green hill-side blossom. They are the men who build our 
ships, and who navigate them. They are the mea who 


build our towns, and wlio inhabit tbem. They are the 
men who constitute the great mass of our community. 
Sir, they are not only the pillars that support our gov- 
ernment, but they are the capitals that adorn the very 
pillars. They are not to be classed with the slave. Our 
laboring men have homes ; they have wives ; they have 
little ones, dependent on them for support and mainte- 
nance ; and they are just so many incentives and so much 
stimulus to action. The laboring man, with us, knows for 
whom he toils; and when he toils he knows that he is to 
return to that home where comfort and pleasure and all 
the domestic associations cluster around the social hearth- 
stone. Northern laborers are ' hirelings,' and are to be 
classed with the negro slave ! 

" Besides that, the men who labor in our community 
are the men whom we clothe with power. They are the 
men who exercise the prerogatives of the State. They 
are the men who, after having been clothed with power 
there, are sent abroad to represent us elsewhere. They 
do our legislation at home. They support the State. 
They are the State. They are men — high-minded men. 
They read ; they watch you in these halls every day ; and 
through all our community the doings of this branch, and 
of the other, are as well understood, and perhaps even 
better, than we understand them ourselves. I affirm that, 
throughout our community, the proceedings of Congress 
are more extensively and accurately read than even by 
ourselves. These are the men who are to be classed by 
the side of the slave ! I think it is true that, in about 
every three generations at most, the wheel entirely per- 
forms its revolution. You rarely find a fortune continu- 
ing beyond three generations in this country, in the same 

" That class of our community, constituting a very large 


majority, has been designated here as hireling hiborers,' 
white skives ! Why, sir, does labor imply slavery ? Be- 
cause they toil — because they pursue a course which en- 
ables them to support their wives and their families, even 
if it be by daily manual labor, does that necessarily imply 
servitude ? Far from it. I affirm that the great portion 
of our laborers at the North own their homes, and they 
labor to adorn them. They own their own homes, and if 
you will visit them you will find in nearly all of them a 
portion, at least, of the literature of the times, which 
shows that they read ; you will find there evidences to 
satisfy you beyond all doubt that they are intelligent, and 
that they are in truth and in fact precisely what I have 
described them to be — the pillars of the State, the State 
itself, and the very ornaments and capitals that adorn the 
columns. With them the acquisition of knowledge is not 
a crime." 

Speaking of the attempt to force a constitution on the 
people of the Territory of Kansas, he uses this vigorous 
language : 

"Mr. President, this is all to be done under the 'forms 
of law.' I have heard this phrase ' forms of law,' until it 
lias become painful to my ear. Forms of law ! Will 
you tell me of the worst despotism that ever existed, that 
did not rest upon forms of law? Will you tell me of the 
wickedest act that has ever been perpetrated by any gov- 
ernment, that has not been done under the forms of law ? 
We sit not here, sir, in the capacity of a court to adjudi- 
cate and to construe the laws that have been made ; we 
are here for the purpose of exercising our power upon 
broader principles of equity than those which belong to 
courts ; but still all courts which administer laws are 
clothed with equity powers. All courts are clothed with 
equity powers to prevent a greater wrong. 


" ' It is a common saying, and a true, 

That strictest law is oft tlie liighest -wrong.' 

" Forms of law ! Why, let us rather see to it that the 
substance of the law is executed and justice done. 

" We are clothed with equity powers beyond those 
which obtain in a court ; and we are making laws ; we 
are not administering them. We ought, at the mere sug- 
gestion of wrong to these people, to go to the very basis 
and ascertain whether we are about to perpetrate a wrong 
and force upon them a government which is not their 
own. But, sir, instead of that, we are here day after day 
with petty juggling and pettifogging, claiming to proceed 
under the forms of law, forgetting the substance. What 
is the substance ? What is the right ? What care I here 
in making laws for what may be a form. What is the 
substance ? What is the great equity of the case ? and as 
a legislator it is my duty to apply myself to that. What 
is right? what is just? Let that be done, and all will be 

" Forms of law ! God knows there is nothing but form 
in it. Forms of law ! Long years ago the mother country 
undertook to oppress these colonies by forms of law, but 
not as unjustly as we have ruled the people of Kansas ; 
and she persecuted that great and noble patriot, John 
Hampden, under the forms of law, and for his love of lib- 
erty. There is one other act which has been perpetrated 
under the forms of law, to which I will allude, and then 
I shall have done. 

" Under the forms of law despotism is created. Under 
the forms of law, all the wrongs of which the mind of man 
can conceive have been perpetrated. Under the forms of 
law, and in the name of liberty, liberty itself has been 
stricken down. In the name and under the forms of law, 
the Son of man was arraigned and stretched upon the 


cross. Undei" the forms of law, you arc about to do an act 
here, unequaled in turpitude by anything that has been 
recorded in all the progress of time, save that event to 
which I have just alluded. In all history, save the cruci- 
fixion of Christ, there is no act that will stand upon the 
record of its pages in after time of equal turpitude with 
this act. The purpose of it is to extend human slavery ; 
and I may well inquire, — 

" ' Is this the day for us to sow 
The soil of a virgin empire with slaver3''s seeds of woe ; 
To feed with our fresh life-blood the Old World's cast-off crime, 
Dropped like some monstrous early birth from the tired hip of 
Time ? ' 

"We give two extracts from the speech delivered by Mr. 
Hamlin in the House, January 12, 184(J, on the Oregon 
question. The first is a most eloquent vindication of the 
people of the North. Mr. Hamlin said : 

" There was another remark to which he wished to 
allude. Too often within these walls, in the discussion 
of various measures, had he heard taunts and reproaches, 
either directly or by implication, cast upon various sec- 
tions of this Union; and when they had been directed 
to that section where it was his pride and his pleasure 
to reside, he had felt them thrill along his nerves, like 
an electric shock, and the impulses of his heart had 
been upon his lips to hurl them back again. But time 
and reflection had chastened these feelings, and he 
passed them by in sorrow that they should come from 
the lips of any individual on this floor; and while it 
was his glory and his pride to be an inhabitant of that 
section whose motives were so often questioned here, 
he had a single word to say in behalf of that people. 
He had no objections to interpose here in defense of 


what may have been the errors or wickedness of her 
politicians, but in behalf of her citizens he had a word 
to say. He believed them to be as patriotic as any other 
class of citizens to be found in our Union. They had 
exhibited their patriotism and their valor on many a 
well-fought field. Their bones had bleached on many 
a Northern hill, and the barren sands of the South had 
drunk in their best blood. Sir," said Mr. Hamlin, "I 
point with pride to the North, and invite you there to 
witness a system which has grown up with us, and 
which is our ornament, I point you to our system of 
free labor ; I point you to our common schools — to 
our churches with their spires pointing toward heaven 
— and I glory in them. They are the monuments that 
belong to a people who have the true spirit of citizens 
of a free government. These things were the glory 
of the North, and Mr. Hamlin gloried in them. They 
were bloodless moral monuments which marked the 
advancing progress of a free people. But I stop not 
there ; I ask you to go with me throughout this whole 
broad nation : and I point you to her — I point you to 
the whole Union as a monument of political grandeur, 
towering toward the heavens, upon which the friend 
of freedom, wherever upon our globe he may be, may 
gaze ; around whose highest summit the sunlight of 
glory forever shines, and at whose base a free people 
reposes, and, I trust, forever will repose. So much 
for New England, my home; so much for the Union, 
my country." 

The second shows the comprehensive views which Mr. 
Hamlin had upon commercial questions at that early 
period in his Congressional career, and the prophetic 
wisdom with which he foresaw the mighty empire which 
was to be founded on the shores of the Pacsific : 


Mr. Hamlin next proceeded to the consideration of 
tliis question in a commercial point of view. Oregon 
was ours ; it belongs to us ; and the question of title he 
had no disposition here to examine. It had been thor- 
oughly, ably examined by those who are in authority, 
and the result has been presented to the American re- 
public. He had no disposition to go into that examina- 
tion. He should be well satisfied to rest himself on him 
who, at least, might be considered the Achilles of this 
question, in the position that our title was better than 
that of England. It was more ; it was a perfect title. 
This being our territory, then, by laws and rules estab- 
lished by Great Britain herself, let them examine care- 
fully into its importance in a commercial point of view. 
They were told, on another occasion, within these walls, 
that it was necessary to extend our public domain in the 
Southwest, for the purpose of securing to our country 
a monopoly of the cotton-growing interest ; and the 
argument was as broad as our Union ; it came home to 
the feelings, to the interests, and to the principles of 
action of the representatives from every section of our 
country. Let them now weigh by the same rules, the 
rules established on that occasion, the commercial con- 
siderations involved in this question. The Northern and 
the Middle states are essentially- manufacturing states — 
the Northern states particularly ; they are situated in a 
high latitude, under a forbidding climate, and yet they 
have the industry of their citizens, the water-power, and 
the facilities given them by nature to render thom a 
manufacturing people. The South — the " sunny South" — 
may grow the staple produce of that country; and the 
West may be the granary not only of our own country, 
but, give it an outlet, the granary of the world. Then, 
he said, in a commercial point of view, this matter came 


home to the feelings and the interests of every citizen 
of every section of our vpidely extended country. The 
North must necessarily be the manufacturing section of 
this Union ; let them have an outlet ; let there be an 
easy mode of transportation and communication to the 
far West, and we would become the manufacturers al- 
most of the world. The Northern and the Middle states 
must be that portion of our Union which will supply not 
only India but China, and all the Eastern portions of the 
world, with their manufactured articles. But he stopped 
not here. The matter came home equally to the inter- 
ests of the South ; because for the supply of those manu- 
factured articles the South would be called upon for 
their staple, for increased production of that staple, 
which, in its manufactured form, is thus destined to find 
its way to the markets of the East. It was a question 
in which the West had no right to assume a particular 
interest. It was a question which came -home equally 
to the North, the South, the East, and the West. It 
was a great national question, co-extensive with our 
Union. Why, we were already opening our markets in 
the East ; we have already established our treaty stipu- 
lations with China; we have already sent our cotton and 
manufactured goods into the Eastern empire. Last year 
more than six millions of American manufactures were 
sent to the Eastern continent ; and of that amount more 
than four millions of dollars is believed to have been of 
cotton goods. We have opened the Chinese market ; 
and in opening that market, with the advance which 
commerce will give in that distant portion of the globe 
to civilization, to refinement, and to Christianity, we have 
opened a market which will call for untold millions of 
the manufactured articles of the Northern and Middle 
states — manufactured from this staple of the South. 


Besides, the commerce of the North was deeply interested 
in her whaling ships. That ocean is now covered with 
nearly 700 ships, and half a hundred smaller vessels, 
manned by more than 20,000 of our citizens, and send- 
ing home, as the fruits of their labor, more than three 
millions of oil annually. 

Mr. Hamlin proceeded to enlarge upon the value 
and extent of the commerce which would grow up be- 
tween the East Indies and our Pacific country, if we 
had possession of Oregon. The trade between the United 
States and East Indies was already very important. But 
it would be vastly increased when we should find a 
route for that trade overland to the Pacific, and across 
that ocean to India. Wherever commerce went, there 
the lights of civilization and Christianity would soon be 
found. Wherever the people of the East have become 
enlightened by commercial intercourse with us, she 
would consume a vast quantity of our products, while 
they would supply us liberally with theirs. Who could 
tell what uncounted millions of manufactured goods from 
the United States would be marketed in the East Indies ? 
Commerce was, therefore, deeply interested in preserving 
the integrity of our domain. He would gladly pursue 
this subject further if time was allowed, and show that 
this question was one that concerned the commerce of 
the whole country, and that the whole people of the 
United States were interested in it. But he was limited 
in time, and he could not pursue the subject in all its 

He thus closes : 

"While gentlemen talked of war, which only existed 
in the visions of old men, or the dreams of young ones 
— while this bugbear was held up, we were losing the 
opportunity to secure for ourselves and our children this 


most important and valuable country. What now would 
arise, was only an inference on the part of these gentle- 
men. They had not shown how it would arise. They 
had not shown us the modus operandi. But we well knew 
that the British pretensions would be strengthened by 
our eternal delay. The longer we delayed the notice, 
the more arrogant would the British pretensions become. 
One point more. Our old men, the gentleman from Vir- 
ginia says, see visions, our young men dream dreams. 
He was not old, and he could not see visions ; and the 
dreams he left to the gentleman from Virginia. Let 
those who dreamed imagine that a war will arise from 
our assertion of our rights; he did not believe it. But 
without the aid of visions he saw a populous and enter- 
prising state on the slope of the Pacific, with manufac- 
tures, and commerce, and navigation. The waters rush- 
ing down to the Pacific would turn thousands of wheels 
and spindles. Our people would move to that region, 
and carry with them all their arts and skill in all the 
various branches of manufactures which we have estab- 
lished in this region. In due time they will supply a 
large portion of America, as well as Asia, with their 

" It would not be long before our settlements would 
extend down to the Mexican boundary. He appealed 
to gentlemen from the South to come up to the rescue, 
and avail themselves of this fair opportunity to obtain 
Oregon. He asked their attention to the position we 
occupied before the American people and the world in 
regard to this subject, and assured them that for us there 
was no retreat from the responsibility of this act, with- 
out incurring the just reproach of the people of the 
United States, and, indeed, of the whole world. The 
Executive had presented his views to Congress, and bad 


recommended to us the passage of the measure now be- 
fore us. He had asked for our early action upon it. The 
stale cry of war ought not to prevent us from discharging 
this duty ; and if we should falter in performing it, we 
should be branded as unfaithful to our trust. The Ex- 
ecutive had laid before us a statement of our just claims, 
showing that they had a solid and stable basis. The 
•whole world would be convinced of their truth and jus- 
tice ; and would an American Congress be found slow to 
defend and assert them ? He (Mr. Hamlin) would appeal 
again to the South, and to the spirit of their fathers — of 
Sumter, Marion, and Pinckney — and call upon them to 
come up to this duty of defending our soil. Should fear 
of consequences prevent us from vindicating our rights 
from foreign aggression ? Should the horrors of war 
deter them from pursuing their line of duty ? Will they 
not come up to the struggle, if need be, and, like 'reap- 
ers, descend to the harvest of death.' True, the South 
has peculiar interests that would be hazarded in a war ; 
but has not the whole Atlantic border a deep stake in 
the continuance of peace? We, sir, in the Northeast 
have an extensive commerce. Our ships are found in 
every sea ; and we have cities on the sea-board exposed 
to the assaults of an enemy. But, sir, we are willing 
to hazard everything in the defense of our country, and 
to lay all our wealth as an offering on the altar of the 
public safety. But who can believe, sir, that England 
will go to war because we do an act that we are entitled 
to do by treaty stipulations? This was too absurd an 
idea to be, for a moment, entertained by any one. 

" But there was another view of the subject. He did 
not pretend to be a wizard, nor to foretell future events ; 
but coming events sometimes cast their shadows before 
them. Judging of the future by the past, he would say 


that the moral force of our institutions would spread 
themselves over every portion of this continent. Their 
progress was as certain as destin)'. He could not be 
mistaken in the idea that our flag was destined to shed 
its luster over every hill and plain on the Pacific slope, 
and on every stream that mingles with the Pacific. 
What would monarchical institutions do — what would 
tyrants do in this age of improvement— this age of steam 
and of lightning ? The mariner's compass, the steam- 
engine, the printing press, with the aid of electricity, 
which has annihilated space, have made the world like 
the ear of Dionysius. The voice of freedom in our halls 
of worship, in our temples, and the knowledge of our 
schools may be heard in distant lands, and will be echoed 
back. Let there be no holding back, no folding of arms 
in quiet ; but let us rather, in a calm and dignified man- 
ner, meet the crisis in a way worthy of our country, and 
as American statesmen. 

" ' And the gun of our nation's natal day, 

At the rise and set of sun, 
Shall boom from the far Northeast, away 

To the vales of Oregon ; 
And ships on the sea-shore luff and tack. 
And send the peal of triumph back.' " 

We do not propose to refer at length to Mr. Hamlin's 
numerous business speeches, as the interest in such 
efforts passes away with the occasion. We refer to two 
elaborate speeches of his on the fisheries, made in the 
Senate, as illustrative of the great research which he is 
able to bring to bear upon historical or practical ques- 

In a speech delivered in the Senate on the 4th of 
May, 1858, Mr. Hamlin defended the system of fishing 


bounties against the attacks made upon it by Mr. Clay, 
of Alabama. He said : 

" Mr. President, the relations which the fisheries have 
borne in every country to the commercial and naval 
prosperity of that country, I think, are intimate and 
important. They are measured by no narrow vision ; 
they are circumscribed by no local position; and I think, 
if the senator from Alabama (Mr. Clay) had risen above 
the mere locality of the fisheries, and had proceeded to 
make an investigation of the subject upon a broader 
principle, he might have come to a difi"erent conclusion ; 
at least he might have divested himself of that bitter- 
ness which was witnessed in the sneer upon his face, if 
not in the language which he uttered, when he said that 
the taking of cod was a momentous concern. The mere 
act of taking cod may be objectionable, if the senator 
pleases, to that sneer; but when measured by other 
considerations that justly and properly belong to it, and 
when viewed in an enlightened sense — in that sense 
which belongs to an American statesman and to an 
American senator — it is worthy of anything else but 
the sneer of any senator. The fisheries arc local. The 
Ruler of the world has made them so. The waters of 
the far North are the fields in which the fish are taken, 
and it would be natural to suppose that the people re- 
siding near to those fields are employed in that pursuit. 
Though they are local, they are, nevertheless, in their 
importance, national. So the fields in which the sugar- 
cane is cultivated are peculiar to that State which is 
represented by the senator who sits beside me, (Mr. 
Benjamin ;) and I aflirm here to-day, that while you 
pay a bounty to the fishermen for national purposes, as 
I shall endeavor to establish, you pay a bounty, by your 
system of revenue laws, to the planters and growers of 


sugar-cane in Louisiana, You may say that the one is 
based upon revenue, and for revenue purposes. My 
answer is, that the other is for a purpose as national 
and as broad ; and that is, of training seamen for the 
naval service. 

"In every country which has existed from the form- 
ation of the world to the present time, the relations 
between the fisheries and the commerce and the naval 
power of the country have been intimate and direct, 
Indeed, sir, there is no country on the face of the globe 
that has been marked and distinguished for its naval or 
its commercial supremacy, that has not had a corps of 
fishermen from which to support both of these institu- 
tions. From the days of Scripture times, from the day 
when Sidon was founded, which was the city of fish, 
down to the present moment, there has been no nation 
that has not relied for its commercial and its naval pros- 
perity upon its fisheries as nurseries for seamen, to sup- 
ply both its commerce and its navy." 

After showing, by copious illustrations, the importance 
attached to the fisheries by the first statesmen of the 
land, before, during, and subsequent to the Revolutionary 
war, he says : 

" But, sir, I want to show you what was the part which 
these fishermen bore, not only in the Revolutionary war, 
but in the war of 1812. I invite your attention to the 
very important part which they contributed, and I think 
no class contributed more — I had almost said that all 
other classes had not contributed as much — to produce 
that happy result which was produced in either case, as 
these fishermen who happened to reside in a locality. 
If you can educate seamen cheaper in any other way, I 
am for abolishing the fishing bounties. I am for sus- 
taining these fishing bounties only upon the ground that 


it is the cheapest mode by which you can educate men 
upon whom you must rely in the emergency of war. 
Can you do it cheaper in any other way? Then do it. 
I am not advocating bounties to any class of citizens, be 
they who they may, unless it be of national importance, 
for a national purpose, and be the most economical mode 
of effecting the object. I believe that the contribution 
of two or three hundred thousand dollars a year — the 
average is about two hundred and five thousand dollars — 
will continually keep in reserve a vast corps of seamen, 
upon whom you can rely, in time of war, better than any 
other class of men, a class upon whom you must call 
in that emergency. If, however, there is any alternative 
proposition, if there is any other way in which seamen 
can be more cheaply and economically furnished to your 
navy, then I am not in favor of this. I am not in favor 
of bounties. I am only in favor of them in this case 
because there is a necessity for them, from the nature of 
the business, which requires aid to keep it alive ; and 
to keep it alive is the only way in which you can get 
the force that is requisite and necessary. 

" Now, I come to the important part which this corps 
of fishermen bore in the struggle of the Revolutionary 
war. They were few in number then, compared to what 
they are now, but they were important. There was no 
branch of the service that did more honorable and gal- 
lant service than they. There was no part of the service 
that aided more in bringing about the happy negotia- 
tions which ended in peace and in our independence. 
It is recorded in the history of the times, and of it 
there can be no serious question, that more than fifty 
thousand tons of British shipping were captured in 1777 
by these New England fishermen. Curwin, of Salem, a 
loyalist, who fled to England, states, in his journal, that 


from May, 1776, to February, 1778, Lloyd's Coffee-house 
list shows that American privateers, one hundred and 
seventy-three in number, captured seven hundred and 
thirty-three British vessels, with their cargoes, worth 
more than twenty-five million dollars ; and they counted 
millions of dollars by a higher standard in that day than 
we do now. Other authorities, entitled to confidence, 
show that, during the war, full two hundred thousand 
tons of shipping were taken by rebel privateers. We 
had no navy. In all the naval service of the Revolu- 
tionary war, we had to depend mainly upon the privateer 
service, — that was composed almost exclusively of the 
fishermen. So efficient were they, that underwriters 
demanded, and there were paid, premiums of from thirty 
to fifty per cent. The mercantile interest of England 
clamored for peace. The fishermen were abroad upon 
every water ; and the lagoons of the Mediterranean 
never swarmed with men more efficiently engaged in 
catching fish, than did the privateersmen of New Eng- 
land swarm the ocean in capturing British vessels, in 
the war of the Revolution. 

" I wish to read an authority in relation to their serv- 
ices in the Revolutionary war, and it is the authority 
of that old patriot and statesman, Henry Knox, who 
shared with Washington so much of the glories, and 
suffered so many of the hardships of the war. He 
speaks with a feeling heart of the services of these men 
in that day. Knox, himself a member of the Massa- 
chusetts Legislature, long after peace had been declared, 
in speaking of these fishermen, gives them not only that 
proud position to which they were entitled upon the 
ocean, but, if possible, still higher credit for the services 
they had performed upon the land. In speaking of the 


time when Washington was obliged to cross the Dela- 
ware on his bridge of boats, he said : 

" ' Sir, I wish the members of this body knew the people of 
Marblehead as well as I do. I could wish that they had stood 
on the banks of the Delaware river in 1777, in that bitter night 
when the Commander-in-chief had drawn up his little army to 
cross it, and had seen the powerful current bearing onward the 
floating masses of ice which threatened destruction to whosoever 
should venture upon its bosom. I wish that when this occur- 
rence threatened to defeat the enterprise, they could have heard 
that distinguished warrior demand, "Who will lead us on?' and 
seen men of Marblehead, and Marblehead alone, stand forward to 
lead the army along the perilous path to unfading glories and 
honors in the achievements of Trenton. There, sir, went the 
fishermen of Marblehead, alike at home upon land and water, 
alike ardent, patriotic, and unflinching, whenever they unfurled 
the flag of the country.' 

"But, sir, these gallant, patriotic men were not less 
serviceable in the war of 1812 than in the war of the 
Revolution. I have a letter from that gallant old man 
who did such distinguished service for his country, 
Commodore Stewart. I addressed him a note some time 
since, asking his opinion of the value of these fishermen, 
on whom the Senator from Alabama seems to place so 
low an estimate. That senator said : 

" ' The mere inspection of a smack and a square-rigged ship 
will show that the former is no school on which to learn how to 
manage the latter. The contrast is as great as between a log- 
cabin and the labyrinth of Crete; and the cod fisherman would 
scarcely be more at fault in the labyrinth than in the ship.' 

" That is the opinion of the senator from Alabama. I 
will read the opinion of Commodore Stewart." 
Mr. Hale. — " He is ' green.' " (Laughter.) 


Mr. Hamlin. — " Commodore Stewart may be in a 
green old age. God grant that many days may yet be 
spared to him, for the gallant service that he has done 
our common country. I have also a letter from the old- 
est active commodore in your navy, that I propose to 
read. The senator from Alabama says he has talked 
with naval officers, who have given him the opinion 
which leads him to this conclusion. I wish he would 
give us their names. I should like to see that naval of- 
ficer who ever fought a naval battle with New England 
fishermen, who would come into the Senate and decry 
their patriotism, their valor, and their services. I think 
the senator has talked with men who never saw such 

"But, sir, let me read this letter, so full of fact, so 
pregnant with meaning, from that gallant old commodore. 
I will not read it all. He goes on to describe acts of per- 
sonal heroism of individual members of his crew, who 
were ready to go down amid the coral and sea-weed in 
defense of a common flag and of common rights. I will 
read only — for it is all that is important — the conclusion 
which he arrived at, as to those men who, according to 
the senator, are so lost on naval vessels. He commanded 
that noble old ship, the Constitution, through the prow- 
ess of which there has been spread and gathered more of 
glory to the American navy than any other vessel ; and 
he speaks of the crew of New England fishermen under 
his command in this wise : 

" ' They were all enlisted in Boston, Marblehead, Salem, and 
Portsmouth, from whence, I believe, it is well known that most of 
the sea-faring men, belonging thereto, come from the New England 

'"In all my sea service, I have never seen, on board of a ship 
of war,' (lost in the labyrinth of Crete ! says the senator from Ala- 


bama,) 'such a splendid crew for expert seamanship, discipline, 
sobriety, orderly and determined bearing, as Tvell as singleness 
of purpose for glory and the honor of their flag, than that one of 
the "Constitution." It may not be inappropriate to repeat here 
the remark of the first Napoleon, on board the " Bellerophon," 
■when reviewing her marines : " What could not be done with an 
army of such men ?" I can only surmise what might be done in 
ships of war, with such crews?' 

" Now, the opinion of the senator from Alabama does 
not concur with Commodore Stewart. The senator from 
Alabama, on such authorities as he has consulted, thinks 
they would be lost on a man-of-war. The commodore 
says, further : 

" 'In conclusion, I may say, in the words of the Sultan of Se- 
ringapatam to the Governor-General of India: "How can I say 
more," in behalf of so noble a crew of New Englanders?' 

" I have a letter here from your oldest active commo- 
dore of the navy, who was an officer on board this very 
Constitution, a noble and a gallant man, who has done 
gallant service for his country, and who is entitled to its 
thanks — a letter hardly less significant than that which 
I have read from Commodore Stewart. What does he 
say of this class of men, who are out of place, who are 
not educated, who do not know what belong to their du- 
ties, because they have only been fishermen ? I addressed 
him three interrogatories, the scope of which the Senate 
will understand by the answers he has submitted. He 
says : 

" ' To the first, I say, without hesitation, that during the war of 
ISri, and at all times since I have been in the navy, we have 
thought ourselves fortunate when we could obtain American fish- 
ermen for the public service, for which we consider no class of 
men better adapted.' 


" The senator from Alabama told us they were not fit 
for naval service. Commodore Shubrick thinks other- 
wise. Commodore Shubrick and Commodore Stewart 
have had a little experience in this matter. Both of 
them have commanded crews of these very men, and 
they know something about them. Commodore Shu- 
brick continues : 

" ' To the second, I say, that during the war of 1812, and for some 
years previous, great pains were taken to exclude foreigners from 
the navy; and I am of opinion that, particularly during the last 
year, a majority were Americans.' 

" That was in answer to a question as to who consti- 
tuted the naval crews at that time. I regret that the 
Chairman of the Committee on Naval Afi'airs is not 
present ; but I shall state some information derived 
from him on this point. That interrogatory was pro- 
pounded for the very reason that I understand, as a mat- 
ter beyond all doubt, that two-thirds at least, probably 
three-fourths, of every crew that treads the decks of 
every vessel in our navy, is constituted of foreigners — 
not a very safe class of men to intrust the interests of 
your country and the integrity of your flag to, in the 
trying times of war. It may do in piping times of peace, 
but it had better not be so then. Wise policy, elevated 
statesmanship, that shall rise above the catching of a cod 
or the locality of the interest, would dictate that both in 
our commercial and in our naval marine the integrity of 
our flag should be intrusted to American hands and 
American hearts. Sir, it is a miserable, it is a local, it 
is a provincial view of the question, that limits it down 
to that narrow point. 

To the third interrogatory which I put to the Commo- 
dore, he says : 


" ' To the third, I say, that any policy by the Government -which 
■will tend to provide, during peace, for the exigencies of war, "is 
wise," and none would be more so than to nurture the body of 
American seamen who are trained in the fisheries.' 

" Now, sir, I think these two letters are very good 
authority, coming from gallant old Stewart and Shu- 
brick, who stand now at the head of your active naval 
list, both of whom have seen much more than any other 
men in your naval service, of the merits of this very 
class of men. Why, sir, in the war of 1812, you could 
hardly man a frigate without these very same fishermen. 
According to the authority of John Quincy Adams, who 
examined this question with great care, and I repeat 
almost in his own words, all of the glory and all of the 
renown that were won by your little and gallant navy in 
the war of 1812, were won by the prowess of American 
fishermen. They struck for freedom with a freeman's 
arm. In every battle that was fought upon the ocean, 
and upon the lakes, they manned your ships, they con- 
stituted your crews. They shed all the luster and renown 
upon your little navy, with the aid of gallant officers, that 
was shed upon it; and now, at this late day, because they 
happened to be situated in a particular locality, and, I 
fear, in obedience to a provincial, sectional, Southern 
press, they are to be stricken down. 

" I will read a single authority more in relation to the 
service which these men performed, because it is from a 
man conversant with that service, who lived amid these 
seamen. Daniel Webster said, in 1852, what is historic- 
ally true, in addressing some of them : 

" ' There are among you some who, perhaps, have been on the 
Grand Banks for forty successive years. There tliey have hung 
on to the ropes, in storm and wreck. The most important conse- 
quences are involved in this raattei'. Our fisheries have been the 


rery nurseries of our navy. If our flag-ships have met and con- 
quered the enemy on the sea, the fisheries are at the bottom of it. 
The fisheries were the seeds from which these glorious triumphs 
■were born and sprung.' 

"During the war of 1812, we captured from the British 
more than two thousand three hundred sail of vessels, 
mounting more than eight thousand guns; fifty-six men- 
of-war, mounting nearly nine hundred guns, and took in 
all about thirty thousand prisoners of war. Of the cap- 
tures in the privateer service, the greatest number was 
by these fishermen. 

'^ Now, sir, I want to invite the attention of the Senate 
to the manner in which other nations (because we may 
draw some light from their practice) have regarded the 
fisheries as auxiliaries to commercial and naval power. 
The senator from Alabama tells us that the bounties 
which have been conferred by Holland, by England, and 
by France, upon their fisheries, have proved a failure. 
I do not quote his language, but I think I state his idea. 
I understand no such thing ; and I think the history of 
the matter proves no such thing. 

" From the days of the commercial prosperity of Ven- 
ice down to the present time, every nation which has 
been distinguished for its commerce and naval power, it 
will be found, has not only devoted its energies to this 
branch of industry, but it has relied implicitly upon it 
as a great source from which its navy and its commerce 
were to be sustained. When Venice was mistress of the 
Adriatic ; when she comm.anded absolutely the Mediter- 
ranean, and almost the whole of Europe ; when she was 
indeed the first commercial power in all Europe, and it 
is said by some writers, equal to all Europe, she had a 
corps of fishermen, with which to supply her commerce 
and her navy along her coasts and bays. They covered 


the lagoons ; they swarmed the Mediterranean ; and her 
argosies were found in every port along the British coast. 
Her vessels visited every port in the Mediterranean, and 
every coast in Europe. Her maritime commerce was 
probably not much inferior to all the rest of Christen- 
dom. Such was Venice in the day of her greatest com- 
mercial prosperity ; and that prosperity was, in a great 
degree, attributable to the enterprise of her seamen, 
who had been trained and educated in the school of 
her fisheries. They were hardy, industrious, and ener- 
getic, and they went wherever commerce could find an 

" Holland, also, furnished a remarkable illustration 
of the importance of the fisheries in connection with 
commerce. It is an old maxim — for it has grown into a 
maxim — that Amsterdam was built on fishes' bones ; and 
when Van Tromp swept the British seas with a broom 
at his masthead, he supplied his vessels with a corps of 
those herring fishermen. A dispatch on the causes of 
its commercial prosperity, prepared with great care by 
the direction of the Stadtholder, places the fisheries in 
the first class of causes as contributing to the advance- 
ment of the republic in its unexampled prosperity. Such 
was beyond all doubt the fact. Go to Spain, sir, and, 
in the day of her prosperity, when she fitted out her ar- 
mada, and when she had colonial possessions that em- 
ployed her fisheries, she was greatest in commerce, she 
was greatest in commercial prosperity, and she was great- 
est in her naval power. Go to France ; and what do you 
find? I will show that they regard this very class of 
fishermen as constituting a portion of the naval service. 
In 1851, Mr. Ancet, in relation to the fisheries, made 
the following report to the National Assembly in 
France •. 


" ' It is not, therefore, a commercial law that we have the honor 
to propose to the Assembly, hut rather a maritime law — a law con- 
ceived for the advancement of the naval power of this country. 
I " ' No other school can eouspare with this in preparing them 
(seamen) so well, and in numbers so important, for the service of 
the navy. 

1 " ' It may be said of this Ssiiery, that if it prepares fewer men 
for the sea, it forms better sailors — the elite of the navj', 

"'The preservation of the great fisheries assumes a degree of 
importance more serious, when they are viewed as being in fact 
the nursery of our military marine.' 

" In another place, ia the same report, he continues, 
speaking of Great Britain : 

" ' The loss of her most magnificent colonies has occasioned irre- 
parable injury to the commercial marine, which is an essential 
element of the naval power. * * 

" ' In order to preserve them, (the fisheries,) we must continue 
the encouragements they have received, even at periods when a 
commercial and colonial prosperity, infinitely superior to that now 
existing, multiplied our shipping, and created abundance of sea- 
men. It is on our fisheries that at this day repose all the most 
serious hopes of our maritime enlistments.' 

" Again he says : 

" Without aid, the cod fisheries could not exist. They furnish 
more than a third of our seamen, and by far the best portion of 
them. There is no cheaper, better, or more useful school for the 
formation of seamen for the navy, and none is more capable of 
extension and development.' 

" Let me read from a report made to the British Parlia- 
ment, in 1846, by Mr. MacGregor : 

" In speaking of the fisheries, De "Witt says : 

" ' That the English navy became formidable by the discoTery 
of the inexpressibly rich fishing bank of Newfoundland. * « * 


" ' And, from 1618, the fisheries were carried on by England, and 
became of great national consideration. 

" ' Before the conquest of Cape Breton-, by these alone France 
became formidable to all Europe.' 

'■' There was a period of time when France came nearly 
equalling England in her commercial power, and that 
was when she held control of the fisheries. Mr. Mac- 
Gregor continues : 

" ' It was a maxim with the French Government, that their Amer- 
ican fisheries were of more national value, in regard to navigation 
and power, than tlie gold mines of Mexico could have been, if the 
latter were possessed by France.' 

" He says, further : 

'"It is very remai-kable that, in our treaties with France, the 
fisheries of North America were made a stipulation of extra- 
ordinary importance. The iSIinister of that power considered the 
value of those fisheries, not so much in a commercial point of 
view, but as essential in providing their navy with that physical 
strength which would enable them to cope with other nations. 

"The policy of the French, from their first planting colonies in 
North America, insists particularly on training seamen by means 
of these fisheries. In conducting their cod fishery, one-third, or ot 
least one-quarter of the men employed in it were 'green men,' ov 
men who were never at sea before; and by this trade they bred 
from four thousand to six thousand seamen annually.' 

" This is the view which they take of the importance of 
these men in France and in England to-day ; and an 
enlightened view of the subject ought to lead us to treat 
them as of equal importance. They are so in fact. In 
1841, when war was apprehended by France, M. Thiers 
called in the services of the fishermen ; and M. Rodet 
afterward remarked, ' Without the resources which were 
found in the sailors engaged in the fisheries, the expedi- 


tion to Algiers could not have taken place.' In reply 
to the assertion of the senator from Alabama, as to the 
eflFect of the bounties on the commerce of England, I 
will quote an authority of great weight, Mr. Sabine's 
able work upon the fishery : 

'" It is certain, that, down to the time of Elizabeth, the foreign 
trade of England was in the control of German merchants, and 
that there had been no employment for many or for large ships of 
the realm. British navigation increased with the growth of the 
fisheries. Without the fleets maintained at Iceland and New- 
foundland, there would have been neither ships nor seamen to ex- 
ecute the plan for the colonization of New England, and of 
other parts of the continent, during the reigns of James and 

" I have already stated the view which was taken of 
this matter in our early history. It is true, as the sena- 
tor from Alabama stated, that Fisher Ames did say, in. 
the House of Representatives, that the taking of cod is 
a very momentous concern. I quote the words ; and 
when I quote them, I do not confine my idea to the mere 
mechanical act of taking fish, but I look at its commer- 
cial relation ; at its naval relation ; I look at the pros- 
perity of the country, and its connection with that 
prosperity. Fisher Ames said, in the same connec- 
tion : 

"'It forms a nursery for seamen, and this will be the source 
from which we are to derive maritime importance.' 

" Mr. Gerry said in the same debate : 

• "'I will not reiterate the arguments respecting the fisheries,* 
it is well known to be the best nursery for seamen.' 

"Jefferson, as Secretary of State, in his report, in 
1791, uses this language : 


" ' We have two nurseries for forming seamen. 1. Our coasting 
trade, already on a safe footing. 2. Our fisheries, -which, in spite 
of natural advantages, give us just cause of anxiety.' 

"After reviewing the condition of the fisheries, their 
necessities and importance, Mr. Jefferson said, in 1791 : 

" ' It -will rest, therefore, with the Legislature, to decide whether 
prohibition should not be opposed to prohibition, and high duty to 
high duty, on the fish of other nations; whether any, and which, 
of the naval and other duties may be remitted, or an equivalent 
given to fishermen, in the form of drawback or bounties.' 

" Mr. Jefferson uses this language in his message of 
December 16, 1802 : 

"'To cultivate peace, and maintain commerce and navigation 
in all their lawful enterprises; to foster our fisheries and nurse- 
ries of navigation, and for the nurture of man ® * * are 
the landmarks by which we are to guide ourselves in all our 

" The importance of these fisheries to-day is well 
worthy of attention." 

Mr. Hamlin made the following effective answer to the 
remark of the senator from Alabama, that the bounty 
law is unequal : 

" The senator from Alabama may tell me truly that 
his State does not enjoy the advantages of the bounty 
law. Granted. The law which regulates the rates of 
postages and collects the revenue, for the purpose of 
paying for the transmission of mails, is no more and no 
less a general law than this in relation to fisheries; and, 
if there be force in the senator's argument, while it may 
not apply in as strong a degree in point of fact, it applies 
precisely with the same force to the post office laws. 
The' Northern States pay more than the expenses of 


their mails, and contribute that amount to the support 
of mails in the South. In 1850, the total postage col- 
lected in the Southern States was $1,042,809.24, and the 
expense of transportation, $1,496,356.50 ; while, in the 
Northern States, the postage collected was $2,975,852.19, 
and the expense of transportation, $1,427,822.63. In 
.1855, the total postage collected in the Southern States 
was $1,553,198 ; cost of transportation, $2,385,953 ; while 
in the Northern States the postage was $4,670,725, and 
the transportation, $2,608,295. In 1857, the receipts 
were at the South, $1,672,856.78, and the cost of the 
service, $2,329,299; while in the North the receipts 
were $5,498,303.12, and the cost of service $4,095,267. 
In 1855, Maine contributed $151,358 to the Post Office 
revenues, and cost $82,218 ; while Alabama cost $226,- 
816, and contributed $104,514. 

" I make no complaint of this ; but I only use it as an 
illustration, for the purpose of showing that any general 
law, in its application, may draw from one section of the 
country a portion of the revenue to carry out the sys- 
tem in another. The senator's own State shows a defi- 
ciency in the post office revenue of about one hundred 
and twenty thousand dollars annually ; and I contribute 
very cheerfully, whether it be by direct appropriation 
or in any other way, to supply the deficit, in order to 
carry out a general system. The post office law is no 
more general, no more applicable to all, than this other 
law. In the one ease, the fisheries happen to be local, 
although connected with the commerce and navy of the 
country, and they are in their importance as national as 
though they spread all along the coast. 

" Another word, sir. I have taken some pains to ex- 
amine, from a paper which has been very kindly pre- 
sented to me by a friend who has resided on the Pacific 


coast, the fisheries in those waters, and I have arrived 
at the conclusion that precisely the same state of things 
which exist on that coast exist on the Atlantic coast ; 
and I have not a doubt that, for the purpose of raising a 
corps of seamen there, the application of this law is as 
wise for the Pacific coast as for the coast of the Atlan- 
tic. Nor have I a doubt that, when they come to exam- 
ine it carefully, they will find it as necessary there as 
it is here, as wise there as it is here, and wise in both 

All who read the extracts which we have given, will 
see that fearless and decided as Mr. Hamlin has been in 
the utterance of his individual opinions, patriotism has 
always governed him more than partisanship. Devoted 
to his own state and people as few men have been, he 
has never been local or sectional. lie has faithfully 
discharged all his duties as a public man, and will be 
prepared to meet the exalted responsibilities which may 
devolve upon him. He will doubtless prove the wise and 
trusted counselor of the chief magistrate of the Union, 
and will stand faithfully at his side a defender of " the 
rights of all the States, and Territories, and people of the 
Nation, the inviolability of the Constitution, and the per- 
petual union, harmony, and prosperity of all." 




Fish 597 

Erroneo-osly called "by Fish a 

First Edition 

See Fish 597 ( a ) 

Lincoln National Life Foundation